“The current reality is that if the SAFE is not passed, only the biggest, most connected MSOs will have enough capital to weather the storm.”
Calico Castille, Minority Cannabis Business Association
With the 2022 midterm elections over and only one runoff vote left to determine whether the Democrats retain a single vote or a 50-50 majority in the Senate, all eyes are on (at least in the cannabis industry). Headed for a lame duck session, we hope the Senate will finally send the Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act to the desk of President Joe Biden.
The Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) has supported the SAFE Banking Act in its current form for several years, but over the past two years has devoted significant resources to advocating certain amendments that would improve SAFE. . We need to talk to support this bill.
About this time last year, I wrote an op-ed in the marijuana moment, “Can Cannabis Reformers Get Safe Banks or Get Nothing from Congress—Which?” This Congress presented a case that could be the last chance to pass SAFE Banking (read: any cannabis industry law) until the next presidential administration.
In that article last year, the MCBA called for amendments not only to pass SAFE banking, but also to include “Protection of Community Financial Depository Institutions (CFDIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) with a Lending History.” to the black and brown communities. ”
We are here to remind you of #SAFECantWait again. He is proud that many other opinion leaders are calling for an improved SAFE Banking Act to be passed as well.
Recently, a good friend of mine, Supernova Women’s Amber Senter, published a thoughtful article about marijuana moments.
“If we don’t improve our bill, SAFE could widen the gap between the already successful white-owned MSOs and the new entrepreneurs in the communities who suffer most under racist marijuana law enforcement. There is a possibility.”
Another respected organization, the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition, has published a thoughtful paper with many recommendations for improving SAFE.
Over the next few weeks, the MCBA will continue to advance three policies that it believes will not only meet the bill’s original goals, but will also make significant improvements for minority entrepreneurs.
Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) are included in the bill’s safe harbor language as they are entities with the authority and track record of lending to minority communities. By enabling these institutions to become involved in the emerging legal cannabis industry, we open up trusted partners closest to the community to serve as conduits for capital flow.
Excludes cannabis-related entrepreneurs from access to the Small Business Administration (SBA), which has the ability to issue microloans ranging from $500 to $50,000, and 7(a) programs that award up to $5 million in lower amounts interest lending to end discriminatory practices. Additionally, it will give cannabis entrepreneurs access to a nationwide network of technical support from SBA offices that spans from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon and all legal markets in between.
Include the HOPE Act, which provides resources and encourages state and local governments to enact cannabis crime suppression programs. This is not banking-related reform, but it is important to improve the economic status of millions of black and brown Americans who have been prevented from full participation in the economy because of discriminatory background checks. is.
For years we have fought for these improvements. Not only will you lobby Congress, but you will persuade people in white-owned, MSO-led lobbying organizations to acknowledge credible concerns about the restrictive nature of the SAFE when it was first drafted. did. In fact, he was one of my predecessors, working with the Small Business Commission, to draft the SBA bill and testify before Congress in support of it.
And Congress, in a bipartisan fashion, has seen Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Steve Danes (Republican-Montana), Sherrod Brown -Ohio) all responded positively.
The reality as it stands is that if the SAFE is not passed, only the biggest, most connected MSOs will have enough capital to weather the storm. But even then, the legalization movement would be such a step back that it would hurt revenue.
Now is the perfect time to create an improved “SAFE Plus” bill, and it is critical that all parties work in unison to ensure a successful vote.
MCBA recently hosted a “SAFE Can’t Wait” Town Hall in partnership with Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM), Women Grow and Marijuana Matters. Board before entering halftime (new parliament).
At this time, SAFE is not just about public safety and banking access. It is a morale booster for the thousands of entrepreneurs who earn a living denied basic business services that other small businesses can access. .
The current reality is already one of the haves and have-nots: only the most capitalized and well-connected entrepreneurs have access to banks. Now is the time to remove barriers to basic business services for the cannabis entrepreneur and his SAFE-Plus. Great place to start.
Score points on the board by kicking field goals in #SAFECantWait.
Kaliko Castille is Chairman of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and co-founder of ThndrStrm Strategies, a digital strategy firm. Disclosure: He also supports the work of Marijuana Moment through his monthly pledge on Patreon.
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Photo courtesy of Philip Stephan.