The contentious issue of legal banking facilities for California’s burgeoning marijuana industry is going to be put under the spotlight by the newly-appointed president of the state’s Cannabis Authority, Estelle Fennell.
This go-getter is no stranger to the public, serving as 2nd District Supervisor of Humboldt County for a number of years.
After her appointment earlier this week, Fennell referred to cannabis banking – or rather the lack thereof – as an issue “that rises to the fore”. Fennell says that while counties and states have imposed tax structures for legalized cannabis sales, the federal government continues to label marijuana as an illegal drug. Therefore “cash is still the norm for the industry”.
A series of steps to streamline the industry
Fennell announced that the CCA’s investigation into banking facilities for California’s multi-billion-dollar cannabis industry will be just the first in a series of steps to streamline and improve current conditions.
Despite the legalization of recreational marijuana in California at the beginning of 2018, banks have turned their backs on doing business with anyone associated with the marijuana trade for fear of stepping on federal government toes. As a result of the federal government’s hard-nosed stance of classifying the herb as a drug comparable to heroin, industry players have been robbed of somewhere safe to deposit their cash.
Fennell’s involvement with the marijuana industry began before her recent appointment to the CCA, paying particular attention to the rights and needs of cannabis-related players in rural counties. As she says, she has focussed her attention on weathering “a whole new world of cannabis”.
CCA adds clout for improvement
Her appointment as president of the CCA will add significant clout to her attempts to improve conditions in the industry, as the CCA is a joint-powers authority that assists local governments to regulate and manage cannabis operators, and provides information to financial institutions who may be interested in joining the marijuana gravy-train.
The CCA will collect information from sources throughout California for analysis on a data-platform that can then be used to assist local governments to impose regulatory compliance conditions encompassing the cannabis industry. The platform will also contain vital financial information to assist taxation authorities.
Fennell says the CCA will collect data about marijuana operators and their employees to ensure that they are legal and have conformed to compliance regulations. Although this operation will not be completed overnight, Fennell says the objective is to decriminalize the industry and to improve cash-flow security issues. Banking facilities, she says, will allow marijuana operators to circulate money back into the community.
How the CCA will help local governments
The CCA can achieve these objections by giving local governments access to a database that will:
- Streamline the taxation process
- Promote local law enforcement by providing accurate information
- Assist public health officials with information
- Providing informative data to officials involved with community planning projects
- Providing information about land-use patterns
Fennell says she believes that the CCA has created a workable solution that will ensure the safety of the end-user by providing a regulated and reliable product. The CCA represents the counties of Humboldt, Monterey and Louis Obispo.
With Estelle Fennell at the helm, the California marijuana industry can look forward to an acceleration in efforts to provide safe banking opportunities, as well as addressing the varied issues still clouding this fledgling multi-billion-dollar enterprise. As Senator Mike McGuire once said, Fennell “works hard every day” and is “a champion for good jobs, strong public schools and keeping our neighborhoods safe.”