Search Results for: Leafly

Leafly Announces Leafly Learn Online Education Platform for Training & Certifying Budtenders

WASHINGTON: Leafly, the world’s leading cannabis resource, today announced Leafly Learn, an online education platform created to empower cannabis retail workers to serve customers with confidence. To celebrate, Leafly is hosting a 16-city tour across North America to bring Leafly Learn directly to budtenders. Leafly Learn and the Budtender Education Tour will teach budtenders about the science of cannabis and how it can be applied to budtender best practices in order to help customers discover the products best suited for their needs.

“Budtenders are the face of the cannabis industry and the frontline for guiding customers toward products that will work best for them,” said Rebecca Kelley, content director at Leafly. “We built Leafly Learn with an understanding of the crucial role budtenders play in educating customers, and created this learning platform so that budtenders everywhere can feel supported in their careers and have more confidence in their product recommendations.”

Leafly Learn will be exclusively available to retailer clients of Leafly, who can use the curriculum and the newly unveiled Leafly Cannabis Guide to provide training to budtenders as part of their professional development. According to the 2019 Leafly Jobs Report, there are more than 211,000 jobs in legal cannabis, many of which are budtenders new to the industry. According to a recent industry report, more than 90 per cent of consumers seriously consider a budtender’s recommendation when making a purchase decision, highlighting the need for budtender education efforts like Leafly Learn.

To kick off this initiative, Leafly is taking Leafly Learn on the road to 16 cities across North America, meeting directly with thousands of budtenders to provide hands-on training based on the Leafly Cannabis Guide:

Leafly Learn Budtender Education Tour

  • Phoenix, AZ: October 7, 2019
  • Los Angeles, CA: October 10, 2019
  • Portland, OR: October 12, 2019
  • Vancouver, Canada: October 17, 2019
  • Seattle, WA: October 24-25, 2019
  • Calgary, Canada: October 30, 2019
  • Chicago, IL: November 4, 2019
  • Detroit, MI: November 5, 2019
  • Toronto, Canada: November 8, 2019
  • Boston, MA: November 11, 2019
  • Baltimore, MD: November 13, 2019
  • Orlando, FL: November 19, 2019
  • Miami, FL: November 21, 2019
  • Oklahoma City, OK: December 1, 2019
  • Denver, CO: December 4, 2019
  • Las Vegas, NV: December 9, 2019

“I was a budtender before I worked at Leafly, and I know a thousand questions come your way when helping customers select the right products. As the cannabis market expands and more people make careers of budtending, it’s a huge priority for us at Leafly to ensure budtenders have the support and education they need to make cannabis a positive experience for all customers,” said Maria Sharp, manager of partnerships and education at Leafly.

Retailers interested in Leafly Learn and the Budtender Education Tour can find more information here.

Leafly Hires Kirk Beardsley As Chief Operating Officer

WASHINGTON: Leafly, the world’s leading destination to help people discover, find and buy cannabis, today announced the hiring of Kirk Beardsley, an accomplished Fortune 500 retail executive, to the role of Chief Operating Officer. As COO, Beardsley will lead sales, marketing, and business innovation for Leafly.

“Kirk’s track record of helping some of the world’s leading brands build and scale multi-billion-dollar digital retail and marketplace businesses will help us fulfill our mission of becoming the destination for people interested in finding and buying legal cannabis,” said Leafly CEO Tim Leslie. “The legal cannabis market offers a substantial and growing opportunity, and Kirk has the experience to help us capitalize on our already strong momentum.”

Beardsley brings more than 20 years of experience dedicated to digitally infused commerce, most recently as Executive Vice President of Strategic Growth and Head of Trunkclub at Nordstrom. In his eight years at Nordstrom, he held key transformation roles including EVP of Marketing, EVP of Enterprise Technology and Innovation, and EVP of E-commerce and Online Merchandising. Prior to Nordstrom, he led global e-commerce at Microsoft Store and has held multiple leadership roles at Amazon.

“Over the course of my career I’ve had the privilege of leading all aspects of some of the world’s most influential consumer marketplaces,” Beardsley said. “I look forward to bringing those capabilities to Leafly to help more people get information and access to legal cannabis products that support their lifestyle.”

Leafly’s mission is to help people around the world discover, find and buy the best cannabis products for them. Consumers can use Leafly’s website and mobile app to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs, find those products safely and efficiently, and buy them from licensed and regulated dispensaries or retail stores.

With more than 10 million monthly site visitors and more than 1.4 million user-generated strain, product and licensed dispensary reviews, Leafly has one of the largest and most engaged audiences in the cannabis industry.


Leafly Hires Veteran Product Executive Leslie Grandy As Chief Product Officer

WASHINGTON: Leafly, the world’s leading destination to help people discover, find and buy cannabis, today announced the hiring of Leslie Grandy, a veteran product executive experienced in global markets, to the role of Chief Product Officer. As CPO, Grandy will lead product development for Leafly’s array of consumer and business products.

“Leslie is a seasoned technology leader with a track record of bringing world-class products to market,” said Leafly CEO Tim Leslie. “Her experience will help us continue to build and scale technology products that serve the needs of cannabis consumers, retailers and brands.”

Grandy has built breakthrough products for industry leaders such as Apple, T-Mobile, Best Buy and Discovery Communications. She also has provided product and innovation advisory services to Fortune 500 Companies including Starbucks, Oracle Utilities, and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.

“I am excited to build upon Leafly’s position as the leading information source for cannabis during this expansive time for the industry globally,” Grandy said. “We have an enormous opportunity to extend our support for the industry with innovative products and services that can help them confidently and intelligently interact in this fast-moving market.”

Leafly’s mission is to help people around the world discover, find and buy the best cannabis products for them. Consumers can use Leafly’s website and mobile app to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs, find those products safely and efficiently, and buy them from licensed and regulated dispensaries or retail stores.

With more than 10 million people visiting Leafly monthly and more than 1.4 million user-generated strain, product and dispensary reviews, Leafly has one of the largest and most engaged audiences in the cannabis industry.

Leafly Pickup Expands Into Canada

CANADA: Leafly, the leading technology platform that helps people discover and find cannabis, today announced the launch of Leafly Pickup in Canada. Leafly Pickup allows consumers to browse the menus of participating cannabis retailers, reserve products online, and then pick up and purchase products in-store directly from the retailer.

Leafly Pickup is available now with leading Canadian recreational cannabis retailer Spiritleaf, a brand established by Inner Spirit Holdings Ltd. (CSE: ISH). Leafly Pickup will initially be available at Spiritleaf’s Alberta and Saskatchewan retail cannabis stores, including new flagship locations in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. Additional retailers will follow Spiritleaf and launch the service in coming weeks and months. Canada is the first country to offer the service outside the United States, which first launched it in March 2018.

“Leafly Pickup is truly a consumer-first technology that exists to help people find the cannabis products they want coupled with the information they need to make informed decisions,” said Leafly CEO Tim Leslie. “We’re proud of the momentum Leafly Pickup has in the U.S. It’s improving the consumer experience and it’s boosting revenue for retail partners. Leafly Pickup is just another way we’re showing Canadians that Leafly is their destination for cannabis discovery and education.”

“Leafly Pickup is the latest example of how we leverage technology to solve business issues in the cannabis value chain – specifically, by increasing consumer access and the appeal of the legal market,” said Jo Vos, Managing Director, Leafly Canada. “We’re proud to launch this new feature with the fantastic team at Spiritleaf – just in time for Canada Day.”

Spiritleaf has franchise-owned or licensed retail cannabis stores operating in Brooks, Lethbridge, St. Albert, Calgary (Stonegate) and Edmonton (Argyll), Alberta; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; and Kingston, Ontario. Spiritleaf’s first corporate-owned retail cannabis stores are expected to open this week in Calgary (Beltline) and Edmonton (Old Strathcona), Alberta.


Leafly Appoints Former Amazon Executive Tim Leslie New CEO

WASHINGTON: Leafly, the world’s leading technology platform that helps customers around the world find and discover the cannabis product that is right for them, today announced the hiring of Tim Leslie, a 20-year veteran of Amazon, to the role of Chief Executive Officer. As Leafly CEO, Tim will guide the company’s vision and strategy as it continues to expand around the globe.

leafly-logo-w851-oLeafly is the most trusted brand in cannabis; the authoritative source on cannabis, where everyone from consumers to potential consumers to dispensaries to growers go to discover the latest and best information about cannabis and cannabis products,” Tim said. “Leafly has been at the forefront of shaping the conversation on cannabis and demystifying this rapidly evolving product and industry.”

“Whether it’s on the Leafly app or, our vision is to empower customers around the world to find and discover the best cannabis products for them,” Tim said. “There is an ever-growing range of legal cannabis products, and as broader legalization gains global momentum, and new opportunities open up, Leafly will be there with its mainstream voice providing customers with the best cannabis information and content.”

Tim joins Leafly from Amazon where he most recently served as Vice President of Amazon Prime Video International. In that capacity, Tim launched Prime Video in more than 200 countries around the world, managing product, technology, marketing and operations for international expansion. Tim’s background in launching businesses around the world and his deep knowledge of customers and content will help Leafly in its on-going international growth and cannabis-related content strategy.

“In addition to helping customers around the world make informed choices about cannabis, Leafly’s rapidly growing marketplace also empowers cannabis businesses to find and retain loyal customers,” Tim said. “Today we are providing new and existing cannabis businesses with the broadest and deepest information in the industry; information that they can trust to provide a professional and personalized experience for customers in a regulated environment.”

Tim started at Amazon in 1999 as Vice President & Associate General Counsel responsible for Worldwide Retail. He helped Amazon launch businesses around the world and built and managed Amazon’s international legal team, which grew to 150 employees under his leadership. In 2013, Tim joined the Amazon Prime Video business as the Managing Director of LoveFilm, a UK and German video streaming and DVD rental business that Amazon had acquired. Tim was responsible for the management of LoveFilm, integrating it into Amazon, re-branding LoveFilm as Prime Video and launching Prime Video in the UK and Germany, which was completed in February 2014. Tim went on to lead the launch of Prime Video globally in 2016.

With more than 20 million monthly online sessions and 1.3 million crowd-sourced strain, product and dispensary reviews, Leafly connects patients and consumers with cannabis brands, products and retailers. Consumers can use Leafly’s easy-to-use website and mobile app to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs, find those products safely and efficiently from licensed and regulated dispensaries or retail stores around the globe.

Leafly Hires New CEO Chris Jeffery

WASHINGTON: Leafly, one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing cannabis technology company, has announced that accomplished startup executive Chris Jeffery has been appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer. As CEO, Jeffery is responsible for Leafly’s vision and strategy as the company expands its operations and product offering around the globe.

“Building on Leafly’s established position as the world’s leading cannabis information resource, we are expanding our focus on providing consumers the tools they need to discover and purchase cannabis products,” said Jeffery. “With unprecedented momentum for legalization worldwide, we are uniquely positioned to help consumers navigate this new legal landscape with reliable information and a personalized experience that saves time and money when making purchasing decisions.”

Prior to Leafly, Jeffery co-founded OrderUp, an online and mobile food delivery service. He built the company into a dominant player in the e-commerce and on-demand delivery spaces, driving $100M+ in annual sales in 40+ markets across the United States. In 2015, OrderUp was acquired by Groupon.

Leafly is the go-to resource for cannabis information worldwide, with more than 13 million monthly visitors and 60 million monthly page views across its websites and mobile applications. With Leafly, finding the right cannabis products is fast, comfortable, and easy. Consumers can use Leafly to learn more about cannabis, discover new cannabis products and brands, and find and review cannabis retailers near them. The Leafly website and five-star mobile app also include the world’s most comprehensive strain database, a full news and culture section, and a video platform, Leafly TV.




Leafly Founders Depart, Raise Cash For New Marijuana Business Intelligence Startup

WASHINGTON: After five years, the founders of marijuana strain and dispensary database Leafly are moving on to their next cannabis-related startup.

Cy ScottBrian Wansolich, and Scott Vickers — who launched Leafly in 2010 — are the co-founders of Headset, a new Seattle-based startup that’s building a business intelligence platform for the fast-growing marijuana industry.

headset-product-details-mobile-r1Headset, which just raised about $450,000 of a $750,000 seed round from Poseidon Asset Management and a group of angel investors, offers what Scott describes as a market research and analysis tool similar to NielsenNPD or IRi, but for customers in the marijuana supply chain.

The idea is to give marijuana retailers, processors, and growers better insights and intelligence for their business, ultimately helping them make more money and offer better customer service.

“We’re staying in the cannabis industry but are tackling a different problem,” said Scott, who’s taking on the CEO role for the new company.

Headset’s platform provides a number of operational insights. For example, retailers can be immediately notified when stock is low of a particular product that’s been selling well, or find out if a specific strain isn’t flying off the shelves like it used to. Meanwhile, product manufacturers can access sell-through data, all-commodity volume information, and a competitive set analysis, among other insights.

Yelp Of Pot, Leafly, Is Tip Of Marijuana Missionary's Spear

Brendan Kennedy wants to make the world safe for investing in marijuana. Kennedy, CEO at Seattle’s $5.5 million (assets under management) Privateer Holdings, believes that he can make a profit and make the world better by investing in marijuana companies.

Kennedy earned a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Engineering from the University of Washington and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. And I think Kennedy embodies Yale’s missionary values – of both doing good – making society better and very well indeed – as in making big bank. [Read more…]

Curt’s Cannabis Corner: Connecticut Goes Green

Welcome to the next installment in the series of educational articles from technical writer Curt Robbins at Higher Learning LV and MJNews Network. This collection is intended for cannabis and hemp industry professionals who wish to gain a better understanding of the nuanced biochemistry, volatile business environment, and detailed regulation of this newly legal herb. 

This week, readers learn about Connecticut, the most recent U.S. state to legalize adult-use cannabis for its residents who are 21 and older. Many aspects of the new law are unique or rare among states that have implemented adult-use cannabis legalization to date. State officials claim that they have developed and are about to implement “the best [cannabis] bill in the country.” 

Among many other notable accomplishments, the state’s progress-minded legislation opens the door to possible cannabis lounges down the road andget thisrequires some cities to create public marijuana consumption areas. Legalization in America is becoming truly surreal. Read on to learn more.







By Curt Robbins

On June 22, 2021, the state of Connecticut legalized adult-use cannabis via its new law SB 1201 to become the 19th U.S. state to do so (the 20th if one includes the District of Columbia). The mere fact that the state has made this leap of faith into the controversial waters of legal/regulated/taxed cannabis for its citizenry is obviously notable news (especially for those who work in the cannabis industry, the target audience of this text and video series). 

Said Governor Ned Lamont at the press conference that officially announced the new pot policy, “The states surrounding us already, or soon will, have legal adult-use markets. By allowing adults to possess cannabis [and] regulating its sale, we’re…effectively modernizing our laws and addressing inequities.” He added that he thinks the new law also is “keeping Connecticut economically competitive with [its] neighboring states.”

The new legislation is similar to many others in the nation, only with more relaxed limits on some of the numbers. Connecticut will permit 1.5 ounces of loose-leaf flower to be carried by a person and five ounces to be stored at their home or in their vehicle (as long as it is securely locked). The law even includes a provision for home cultivation (“home grow”).

Connecticut’s House Majority Leader, Jason Rojas, thinks the state’s new law is the “most comprehensive” and best in the nationand he may be right. “History will tell us if that’s true or not, but I feel confident in saying yes, right now, this is the best bill in the country and it’s going to move us in a direction of ensuring that we provide a well-regulated marketplace for adult-use cannabis for [those] who want to participate in that kind of activity.”

Some experts predict that the state could generate more than $725 million in annual sales by 2025 and collect tax revenue of $600 million during the first five years of operation. This would obviously infuse the state’s coffers with much-needed operating capital, especially on the heels of the economic downturn that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.   

Like California and the entire West Coast, Connecticut’s new law allows municipalities to ban cannabis businesses, basically opting out of the new legislation (a move that, often, is accomplished via modification of zoning ordinances).

But that’s not the biggest news.

More insight is gained from exactly how Connecticut (which features a population of 3.6 million and is only a quarter larger than Humboldt County, California) plans to regulate and restrict legal operators and their consumers in its adult-use cannabis market. Turns out that The Constitution State is proving to be quite progressive and perhaps, dare we say, innovative

Public Consumption Spaces

Pot Smokers at Seattle Hempfest

Connecticut has included a provision in its new adult-use cannabis law that requires municipalities in the state with populations in excess of 50,000 to create and maintain public consumption spaces. How exactly these spaces might manifest is currently pure speculation. 

Here’s the language of the bill: “If the municipality’s population is greater than fifty thousand, such regulations shall designate a place in the municipality in which public consumption of cannabis is permitted.”

Of equal significance are the areas and business types where cannabis consumption will not be tolerated. These include grocery and convenience stores, state parks, businesses holding liquor licenses, schools, child care facilities, dormitories (for both public and private institutions), dog race tracks, elevators, and restaurants (among others). 

Proving that reality sometimes matches the story telling mojo of Hollywood, zones where cannabis smoking/vaping are prohibited in Connecticut also include “the bar area of a bowling establishment.” Despite the fact that eager cannabis consumers won’t be permitted to share joints of Purple Urkle at the bowling alley bar, this language implies that willing owners/managers may legally permit pot smoking in other areas of their bowling alleys. (Is a weed-drenched East Coast reboot of 1998’s The Big Lebowski on the way?)    

For those keeping score, infractions of this smoking restriction clause of the law will involve a $250 fine.

The logic behind the rules is clear (and reasonable): Connecticut is attempting to prevent public spaces, even those that are privately owned but accessed by the public, from becoming cough-inducing smoke dens that would necessarily offend 1) those who abstain from smoking anything, 2) those who dislike the aroma of smoked cannabis, and 3) people who abhor second-hand smoke from any burned substance (a significant portion of the population). 

Social Equity Focus

Social equity and fair access have been core issues of the emerging legal cannabis industry for many years. However, states such as California and others have met a variety of impediments in this area, including infighting and bureaucratic red tape. This has prevented many governments from implementing or maintaining effective social equity programs.  

The new Connecticut law sets aside an industry-leading 50 percent of licenses for equity applicants. In addition, up to 75 percent of tax revenue collected from the legal sale of adult-use cannabis will be directed toward “equity efforts and community reinvestment.” 

Motels & Hotels

Equally progressive is Connecticut’s requirement that all motels and hotels must allow their guests to consume cannabis within the privacy of their rooms (although consumption in public areas of these facilities will remain prohibited). While a seeming victory for cannabis legalization advocates and traveling potheads, the details of this provision reveal some significant limitations. 

Sec. 89 of the law states that “No hotel, motel, or similar lodging shall prohibit the legal possession or consumption of cannabis in any nonpublic area of such hotel, motel, or similar lodging.” 

However, before doing a happy dance, readers should note that the state severely limits the number of rooms in a facility that may allow the smoking and vaping of cannabis. “The operator of a hotel, motel, or similar lodging may allow guests to smoke [or vape] in not more than twenty-five percent of the rooms,” reads the new state law.

This quirky policy, which on the surface makes little sense, may be a message from the state’s lawmakers that they wish to in the future craft legislation specific to cannabis tourism and hospitality. Many experts within the nascent cannabis industry have predicted significant market potential from tourism that caters specifically to cannabis consumers. Perhaps this provision within the new law is the state’s way of putting its foot in the proverbial door of future tourism tax revenue and overall economic benefits.   

Tenant Rights

Demonstrating that it can out-progress fellow adult-use state California and most of Canada, Connecticut’s new marijuana law prevents landlords from discriminating against applicants or current tenants based on prior cannabis convictions. Likewise, landlords and property management companies are also prohibited from drug testing tenant applicants. 

The language of the law: “Except as provided in this section, a landlord or property manager may not refuse to rent to a prospective tenant or an existing tenant, or otherwise discriminate against a prospective tenant or an existing tenant, based on a past conviction for possession of a cannabis-type substance.”


While Sec. 90 (b) of the law, which goes into effect July 1, 2022, prevents landlords from prohibiting the possession or consumption of cannabis, they can say no to the smoking or vaping of the herb within their building or on their grounds. This obviously limits tenants to consumption avenues such as edibles and sublingual tinctures while at home. 

Conviction Expungement

Many adult-use legal cities and states have implemented prior cannabis conviction record expungement, either integrated into their legalization at launch or added as amendments or separate bills after the fact.  

The new Connecticut pot law automatically clears cannabis convictions involving four ounces or less of cannabis, beginning January 1, 2023, for those who were charged between January 1, 2000 and September 30, 2015. Those charged before January 1, 2000 or from October 1, 2015 through June 30, 2021 may, beginning June 1, 2022, petition the court for expungement. Those convicted of cannabis amounts exceeding four ounces will be ineligible for such expungement. 

Connecticut joins adult-use states Arizona, Michigan, Montana, New York, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia, which have also automatically cleared some of their marijuana conviction records (but in many cases, similar to Connecticut, have limited their remediation to relatively minor offences).

Odor No Longer Probable Cause

Another progressive aspect of the new legislation is its stance on probable cause for police and other authorities when it comes to searches of people and vehicles. Connecticut joins states such as Arizona, Massachusetts, and Vermont that have also removed the odor of marijuana from what may be considered good and just reason for authorities to inspect a person or their car. 

The language of the law: “Any of the following circumstances shall not constitute in part or in whole probable cause or reasonable suspicion and shall not be used as a basis to support any stop or search of a person or motor vehicle: (1) The odor of cannabis or burnt cannabis.”

Private Consumption Protections

Connecticut’s SB 1201 also protects employees from discrimination by employers, but these rights aren’t unlimited.  

“No employer shall discharge from employment or take any adverse action against any employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or other privileges of employment because such employee does or does not smoke, vape, aerosolize, or otherwise use cannabis products outside of the workplace.”

Under the law, employers understandably retain the right to prohibit possession and consumption of cannabis at the workplace (and may legally discipline staff members who violate such policies by consuming at work). Conversely, those hyper-progressive employers that wish to allow their employees to blast bong bowls of Bruce Banner at work are allowed to legally do so (as long as they don’t violate any other provisions of the new law in the process).    

Home Grow Provision

Despite the wave of adult-use cannabis legalization sweeping North America, many state laws prohibit personal cultivation (sometimes called “home grow”). The Connecticut law, a pleasant exception, allows adults to grow up to six plants, but they’ll have to wait until July 1, 2023 to begin doing so legally.  

Grow limits apply to not only individuals, but also households, which can “grow no more than 12 cannabis plants at any given time.” All cultivation must be restricted to “personal use” and all plants must be “secure from access by any individual other than the consumer.” The details of how citizens must secure their plants or otherwise comply with the law are currently not defined, but will be included in the forthcoming regulations. 

Consumption Lounge Possibility

While Connecticut has not included a provision that would allow cannabis consumption lounges to legally operate in the state with the implementation of SB 1201, it has opened the door to their inclusion in a potential revision to the law in a couple of years.

The state has committed to, no later than January 1, 2023, “make written recommendations concerning whether to authorize on-site consumption or events that allow for cannabis usage, including whether to establish a cannabis on-site consumption or event license.”

That’s a Wrap

The excitement surrounding the June 2021 entry of Connecticut to the ever-growing throng of adult-use legal states in the U.S. is only increased by some of its relatively progressive provisions. These include tenant protections, real social equity, and possession limits that favor consumers more than many other state laws.

Public consumption spaces, tenant rights, a provision for personal cultivation, automatic (and petitioned) conviction expungement, and relatively liberal possession limits set a positive example for states that legalize in the future. SB 1201 is an arguably above-average start to Connecticut’s coming legal adult-use cannabis market.

WATCH Curt’s Cannabis Corner The Podcast on Marijuana Channel One:

SAFE Banking Act Reintroduced as Momentum for Cannabis Reform Continues to Grow

Landmark, bipartisan legislation passed U.S. House multiple times in last two years

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) reintroduced his landmark legislation to reform federal cannabis laws and reduce the public safety risk in communities across the country. The bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2021 – authored by Perlmutter and sponsored by Reps. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY-07), Steve Stivers (R-OH-15), and Warren Davidson (R-OH-08) and cosponsored by more than 100 members – would allow marijuana-related businesses in states with some form of legalized marijuana and strict regulatory structures to access the banking system. The SAFE Banking Act is seen as the first of many cannabis reforms Congress needs to address.

Forty-seven states, four U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia – representing 97.7 % of the U.S. population – have legalized some form of recreational or medical marijuana, including CBD. Yet current law restricts legitimate licensed marijuana businesses from accessing banking services and products, such as depository and checking accounts, resulting in businesses operating in all cash. This is a serious public safety risk for our communities, inviting theft, robberies, burglaries, or worse, as Colorado saw with the murder of Travis Mason in June 2016 and Michael Arthur in Portland, Oregon in December 2020.

“The genie is out of the bottle and has been for many years. Thousands of employees and businesses across this country have been forced to deal in piles of cash for far too long, and it is the responsibility of Congress to step up and take action to align federal and state laws for the safety of our constituents and communities. The public safety need is urgent, and a public health and economic need has also emerged with the pandemic further exacerbating the cash-only problem for the industry,” said Congressman Perlmutter. “In many states, the industry was deemed essential yet forced to continue to operate in all cash, adding a significant public health risk for businesses and their workers. As we begin our economic recovery, allowing cannabis businesses to access the banking system would also mean an influx of cash into the economy and the opportunity to create good-paying jobs. Thank you to Reps. Velázquez, Stivers and Davidson for their continued support and input on the bill, and I look forward to working with Senators Merkley and Daines to get the SAFE Banking Act passed in the Senate and signed into law.”

“The cannabis industry has been operating with great success, with many of these businesses deemed essential as the coronavirus pandemic took hold,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “However, without the ability to safely utilize the banking system, cannabis-related businesses are left behind and stuck resorting to tactics that can threaten public safety and economic success. That’s why I am proud to join to Reps. Perlmutter, Stivers, and Davidson in introducing the SAFE Banking Act, to allow these business in states that have legalized cannabis to access to the banking system, just as any other business currently enjoys. Doing so will help create jobs in communities throughout America, while stimulating the economy as we recover from the fallout of the pandemic.”

“We have a responsibility to legislate for the reality we live in, and the reality is that legal businesses in thirty-three states, including Ohio, are being denied access to the banking system and forced to assume huge risks as a result of operating solely in cash,” Congressman Stivers said. “The SAFE Banking Act is about keeping people safe, something that 321 of my colleagues recognized last year. I look forward to seeing this bill make it all the way to the President’s desk this Congress.”

“I’m excited we’re reintroducing SAFE Banking, again with bipartisan support. This bill is an important hedge against financial cancellation, and it will protect businesses and industries that find themselves out of favor with the latest trends of the day,” said Congressman Davidson. “Today we’re talking about banking cannabis, hemp, and firearms, but tomorrow there could be another industry that has its access to the banking system threatened by statute or by public opinion. With SAFE Banking, as long as its legal in the jurisdiction, no bank should be compelled to cancel their customers by a mob saying, ‘You aren’t going to bank THOSE people are you?’ Sadly, that has already happened too often in American history and it must end.”

“No one working in a store or behind a register should have to worry about experiencing a traumatic robbery at any moment. That means we can’t keep forcing legal cannabis businesses to operate entirely in cash—a nonsensical rule that is an open invitation to robbery and money laundering,” said Senator Merkley (D-OR). “Let’s make 2021 the year that we get this bill signed into law so we can ensure that all legal cannabis businesses have access to the financial services they need to help keep their employees safe.”

“The ‘SAFE Banking Act’ will help Montana small businesses, create jobs, boost local economies, and improve public safety,” stated Senator Daines (R-MT). “I’m glad to be working on this bipartisan legislation to provide certainty for small businesses in Montana. Montana business owners should have the ability to freely use banks, credit unions and other financial institutions without the fear of punishment.”

In the 116th Congress, 206 members cosponsored the SAFE Banking Act and it passed the U.S. House in a broad bipartisan vote of 321 to 103, with 91 Republicans and one Independent voting in support. The bill also passed as part of the Heroes Act, an earlier COVID relief package which was approved by the House on two separate occasions. In February 2019, the SAFE Banking Act prompted the first-ever congressional hearing on the issue of cannabis banking.

The SAFE Banking Act provides protections from money laundering laws for any proceeds derived from these state-legal marijuana businesses. This will get cash off the streets and into the financial system which is built to root out fraud and illicit activity. This bill also includes protections for hemp and hemp-derived CBD related businesses, which still struggle in accessing financial services despite the legalization of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. The current version of the bill has been updated slightly to include minor technical changes to the safe harbor, strengthened hemp provisions, and other technical updates.

The U.S. cannabis industry continues to grow at a rapid rate, with the current value estimated at $17.7 billion, a substantial amount of which remains unbanked. As of January 2021, the legal cannabis industry supports 321,000 jobs across the country. Over the 2018-2028 period, job growth in this market is projected to climb 250%, the fastest rate for any sector in the U.S. Bringing in this cash will make the industry safer and give banks and credit unions more capital to lend during the economic recovery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.