Although 28 states have already legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to label marijuana a Schedule 1 substance, along with heroin and LSD, making it illegal on a federal level. As a result, the banking industry has been slow to provide services to marijuana businesses, forcing many of these companies to operate on a cash-only basis. A “bankable” marijuana industry, however, would have widespread implications, including for companies like Singlepoint, Inc. (OTC: SING), Terra Tech Corp. (OTCQX: TRTC), OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp. (OTCQB: OWCP), ChineseInvestors.com, Inc. (OTCQB: CIIX).
Cash transaction businesses are a tempting target for thieves, and the lack of oversight at times leads to lost tax revenue. It’s a situation that Senator Elizabeth Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, is anxious to change. As the Associated Press initially reported, Warren and nine other senators have called upon the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to issue new and stronger guidance allowing banks to provide services to marijuana shop vendors. The moves are a significant encouragement to payment processors supporting the cannabis industry, as well as other industry players.
One of the supporters is Singlepoint, Inc. (OTC: SING), a mobile technology and payments provider, which, through its “SingleSeed” Payments subsidiary, provides payment solutions for the cannabis industry. Its mobile marketing and payment solutions include cashless ATM, Pay-by-Text™ and text message marketing. The company is strongly encouraged by the efforts of Senator Warren and others on Capitol Hill, and the significant positive changes they could bring.
Another company that stands to gain with this new market opportunity is ChineseInvestors.com, Inc. (CIIX). ChineseInvestors.com, a company that provides investor information to the global Chinese community, and also offers a unique link to this community for growing businesses. The company recently announced plans to launch the “world’s first Cannabidiol (CBD) health products online store in the Chinese language,” through an agreement with a “well-known” CBD health brand.
Other cannabis-related companies in line to benefit from mounting support of a bankable marijuana industry include Terra Tech Corp. (TRTC). Through its subsidiaries, Terra Tech provides a range of hydroponic equipment for indoor cultivation of cannabis products. In addition, the company sells hydroponic cannabis produce and associated products. Another is OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp. (OWCP), an Israeli company that develops cannabis products for the treatment of diseases, also offering consulting services in the industry.
Previous guidance efforts by the U.S. Department of the Treasury gave banks only limited permission to work with legal marijuana businesses. Along with the DEA’s Schedule 1 listing, it has created a significant gap between state and federal treatment of marijuana. Even though the number of financial institutions willing to provide services to marijuana businesses has grown significantly in recent years, only a small percentage currently serve the industry. It’s still an area dominated by small state-chartered banks and credit unions.
Supporters however see an inevitable day, through efforts such as those now being led by Senator Warren, when large national banks like Wells Fargo offer comprehensive services to the cannabis industry, further spurring already rapid industry growth.
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