Cannabis Business Updates at Both Federal Level and State Level

The Cannabis Industry got a big bump recently on the federal level with the passage of a bill in the House of Representatives that would allow banks to do business with cannabis related businesses. The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, known as the SAFE Banking Act, passed the House of Representatives on September 25, 2019 by a vote of 321 to 103. The bill would allow a “safe harbor” for financial institutions, as well as other ancillary businesses, that might conduct business with cannabis related companies. Proponents of the bill, including sponsor Ed Perlumtter of Colorado, argue that the bill would stifle violent crime against employees and store owners, reduce money laundering, and allow the efficient collection of taxes.

The next big hurdle for the bill becoming law will be the Senate banking committee considering a parallel bill introduced by Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. The indication is that the Senate Committee on Banking may hold a vote on a cannabis banking bill next July, but it remains to be seen whether it will be Senator Merkley’s bill, or an amended bill crafted by the Senate Committee on Banking.

At the State level, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (“CDFA”) is preparing the groundwork to allowing licensees to change designated responsible parties on issued licenses. In discussing the matter with staff, CDFA is prepared to take in requests for changing a designated responsible party pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 3 Div. 8. Chapter 1 Section 8204. CalCannabis has informed applicants that although they do not have the technological capability to document the ownership change in the online portal, they will accept mailed documents requesting the change. Stay tuned.