The cannabis industry is growing year-over-year as individual states legalize the plant. The industry is growing because of legalization, but also because of market demand. People are spending their hard earned cash on cannabis every day, which therein lies the problem. Cannabis cash is not accepted by most financial institutions and leaves cannabis business owners with few options on how to deal with the surplus of cash. When we reference cannabis cash, we are speaking directly to the actual printed currency used in transactions. Because financial institutions are beholden to federal law, most financial institutions frown upon participating in any transaction that involves the exchange or use of cannabis cash.
As long as the federal government views cannabis as a Schedule I drug along the lines of heroin and cocaine, financial institutions are at risk of being audited, fined, and possibly shut down for violating federal law if they partake in any transactions using cannabis cash. At S2S Insurance we see the accumulation of large amounts of cash problematic for a number of different reasons. “Cash Only” businesses invite criminal activity because criminals have an opportunity to obtain a large amount of cash that cannot be traced and can be used quickly to avoid capture. Cannabis business owners become targets for breaking and entering, robbery, and vandalism. An attempted robbery whether successful or not can leave a great deal of property damage, from broken windows or doors, to broken equipment, display cases, vaults or point of sale devises. That type of damage is costly to any business owner, not just those in the cannabis industry.
The marijuana business is booming in the US. According to a report from the investment bank Cowen, legal marijuana is set to hit $75 billion in sales by 2030, putting it on par with soda consumption. Marijuana cultivators are now listed on the NASDAQ, have former politicians on their board, and are backed by heavyweight investors like Leon Cooperman.
But for many big institutions, the risks of banking and lending to the cannabis industry under the current federal mandate just aren’t worth it, especially with all the extra paperwork and scrutiny it can generate.
“For cannabis businesses, this means that access to the basic financial products like checking and savings accounts can be elusive,” John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies issues pertaining to marijuana legalization, told Business Insider.
Tyler Beuerlein, a VP at Hypur, an Arizona-based fintech startup that acts as a middleman between banks and cannabis companies, told Business Insider that he believes there are “less than 30” banks willing to do business with the booming cannabis industry in the US.
That means the costs of doing business and remaining compliant with the byzantine patchwork of state and federal laws guiding the cannabis sector are much higher than in any other industry.
Every cannabis business owner that has the “cannabis cash” problem, should take the first step in protecting their business by getting cannabis insurance. Standard insurance polices will not be enough because of the uniqueness of the cannabis industry. Cannabis business owners should be working with experienced cannabis insurance specialists like Eric Rahn of S2S Insurance, to help determine the right risk management strategies for their business.