The thriving cannabis industry has long had significant barriers to obtaining financial services. Only 695 banks and credit unions are involved in marijuana and related businesses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The fact that a large percentage of cannabis customers pay cash, combined with a lack of banking facilities, often leaves businessmen with huge amounts of cash at their disposal. Improved access to credit means that any kind of cash management is wrong. This in turn makes the cannabis industry more vulnerable to fraud and money laundering, not to mention the potentially even more dangerous environment for its customers. According to a recent report of the Marijuana Policy Project, the North American legal cannabis market is on track to reach a value of 16 billion dollars by 2021.
The good news is that expanded credit union policies, combined with Democratic victories, are likely to mean more choice in the industry. This would protect banks and cooperatives that provide legal cannabis-related financial services. In particular, the law also includes protections for cannabis industry service providers, who may lose access to banking services if they only offer cannabis shops to their customers. Since the use of cannabis for adults has been legalized in several new states, the number of cannabis shops the require bank transfers has increased. As of present various measures like the MORE, SAFE, and STATES act are waiting on votes which would ultimately broaden the security of customers and business owners with respect to the industry.