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Cannabis Legal Status

The Future Legal Aspects of Cannabis Payments

What to expect for the future legal aspects of marijuana payment solutions.

Updated:
July 6, 2022
by
The Future Legal Aspects of Cannabis Payments

Introduction

Over the past decade, the cannabis industry has witnessed incredible changes. But these changes are only the beginning. Over the next few years, there will likely be several more remarkable changes that alter the legal status of cannabis and corresponding marijuana payment solutions.

Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act

Re-introduced in 2021, the purpose of this Act is "To create protections for depository institutions that provide financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers for such businesses." When passed, more banks and financial institutions should feel comfortable providing additional banking services to the cannabis industry. However, until cannabis is federally legal or removed as a Schedule 1 drug, big banks and credit card companies may continue to prohibit cannabis-related transactions.

Removal of Cannabis as a Schedule 1 Drug

Per the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, cannabis is currently a Schedule I drug. There has been an ongoing, bipartisan push to reschedule or remove cannabis, which will help destigmatize cannabis while providing legal legitimacy to the industry.

Section 28(e)

Initially introduced in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this regulation helps promote "safe harbor" banking. By leveraging this regulation, and others like it, cannabis companies can bank compliantly.

National Legalization

Currently, 18 states (along with D.C. and two territories) have legalized cannabis at the recreational level. Though it will take some time for cannabis to become legal across the nation, the necessary legal processes are already in motion.

Legal future of cannabis payments

With each passing year, the legalization of both recreational and medicinal cannabis is becoming more accepted across American society. With greater acceptance, creating cannabis payment systems and their supporting infrastructure has become increasingly more possible. A Pew Research Center Poll from April 2021 revealed that 91% of Americans now support the federal legalization of cannabis—an all-time high.

As more states allow some form of legal and licensed cannabis, payment processing options will continue to expand. Within the next ten years, most states with a licensed cannabis market will incorporate payment processing infrastructure comparable to what exists for industrial hemp-derived products today. A challenge for cannabis suppliers will be finding ways to minimize fees and ensure payments are consistently processed.

Conclusion

While traditional banking services and credit card payments may become available for cannabis-related businesses at some point in the future, cannabis transactions will likely be considered high risk for quite some time. High risk regarding credit card payments will lead to significantly higher processing fees than seen with ACH payments.

As a result, bank transfers will continue to remain a popular payment option throughout the cannabis industry.

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