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New York & New Jersey Equity Entrepreneurs Push for SAFE Banking

NJ & NY are teaming up to put pressure on congress!

Dozens of entrepreneurs with cannabis equity licenses from New York and New Jersey are urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to seek passing legislation allowing banks to serve cannabis businesses without fear of federal penalties.

The group, organized by the United States Cannabis Council, sent a letter to Schumer on Friday arguing that the proposed SAFE Banking Act would provide equity entrepreneurs (including people of color) access to basic banking services denied to them thus far.

"Having no access to basic and essential banking services is blunting the impact of social equity programs. ... These businesses are forced to operate on an all-cash basis," the letter states. Its authors also pointed to the cost of starting a cannabis business and barriers for individuals with past convictions, suggesting the latter should be addressed by complementary legislation.

"As you know Black and brown entrepreneurs have long faced systemic disadvantages when launching and running a business," the letter adds. "The legal cannabis industry is no different. While many states, including New York and New Jersey, have been deliberate in setting up a system that is equitable and accessible to the communities most banned by the war on drugs. even entrepreneurs with special equity licenses run into obstacles."

Melissa Moore, a New York-based director at the Drug Policy Alliance, said that if the banking bill is passed in the next couple of months as part of the larger package of equity-focused reforms Schumer is said to be negotiating, there could be "an increase in the access to financial services and to lending for social-equity licensees, and it could come at a particularly important moment as New York is still getting our full program up on its feet."

But Moore is among those who think the SAFE Banking Act alone would not positively impact the equity of the state’s industry.

It's clear if states have any chance at real equity, we must ensure all levels of cannabis business have equal access to resources.

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