More than three months after the coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China, thousands have lost their lives and the world economy has taken a historic hit. In the U.S., over 20 million individuals have lost their jobs as all but the most essential businesses shut down their brick and mortar locations. The hospitality and restaurant industries have been especially hit.
Although most states with legal marijuana deemed the industry essential, a lot of marijuana businesses have had a hard time operating during the lockdown. Medical experts say the virus can survive on money for quite a while, but due to prohibition, these businesses have been forced to operate on a largely cash basis. This not only puts the employees in danger of infection but also the millions of immunocompromised people who rely on marijuana as medicine.
On Friday, a coalition of marijuana advocacy groups sent a letter to House leadership asking them to remedy this situation. They want the House to incorporate language allowing the cannabis industry to access banking services in upcoming coronavirus relief legislation.
Financial institutions have always shied away from transacting with the cannabis sector for fear of reprisal from the federal government. This locks cannabis businesses out of contactless payment options like credit cards, which are highly encouraged at this time.
“As recent reports show that viruses can live for up to 17 days, the public safety concerns of this cash-only system compound. The lack of access to financial institutions places industry workers, government employees, and the public at large at risk as banknotes circulate from consumers and patients to businesses to government,” states the letter.
“Unlike other essential industries with access to remote payment processing and the use of credit cards to make a transaction entirely contactless, an industry limited to cash transactions must do business in close proximity to the public, including immunocompromised and otherwise medically vulnerable patients.”
The letter was signed by the National Cannabis Industry Association, Americans for Safe Access, Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce, Marijuana Policy Project, Minority Cannabis Business Association, NORML, National Cannabis Roundtable, National Association of Cannabis Businesses, Policy Center for Public Health and Safety, and the Safe and Responsible Banking Alliance.
It also touches on the fact that marijuana businesses were denied access to the disaster relief funds dispatched by the federal government.
“Cannabis businesses and their employees already face a significant public safety risk without access to the banking system, and the COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated this risk with these essential businesses having to move their cash-only transactions outside the store,” says Rep Ed Perlmutter.
“I will continue pushing for the inclusion of the SAFE Banking Act or other forms of relief for this industry in the next package.”
Analysts believe that the entire marijuana industry, including SinglePoint Inc. (OTCQB: SING), will be hoping that the decision makers in Washington soften their stance on marijuana and make concessions aimed at helping the industry through this crisis.
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