Since Oklahoma legalized medical marijuana in 2018, it’s been a boon to the economy as well as a boost to the health of the people who benefit from it. But there’s one big question that surrounds the medical marijuana industry in Oklahoma: how do banks and the cannabis industry come together for their mutual benefit? Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, making it difficult for those in the cannabis industry to use the federal banking system safely. The answer for many people is cannabis banking, and Oklahoma is paving the way for other states where medical marijuana is legal. Here’s all you need to know about the future of cannabis banking in Oklahoma.
What is Cannabis Banking in Oklahoma?
The laws under which medical marijuana businesses must operate in the state of Oklahoma require them to track every single transaction that occurs electronically. This is often referred to as the “seed-to-sale” tracking system that helps record the entire life cycle of a cannabis product.
Complying with this law is made difficult by the fact that any bank that operates under federal guidelines is taking a huge risk when they do business with medical marijuana dispensaries, because marijuana is still not legal on a federal level. Oklahoma’s medical marijuana business must comply with Oklahoma’s laws and the banks must comply with federal laws, which has created an environment where banks simply aren’t providing services to cannabis businesses – resulting in many businesses operating only with cash.
Congress is currently reviewing something called the SAFE Banking Act. If signed into law, it would allow banks to do business with medical marijuana providers in states where it’s legal without facing consequences from the federal government for doing so. It was recently passed in the House of Representatives and is waiting for review by the United States Senate. But there is hope that something is going to be done soon on a federal level to address the issues that have arisen from the legalization of medical marijuana in Oklahoma and many other states.
Oklahoma Cannabis Banking: The Pros and Cons
Without access to traditional banking to help run their business, medical marijuana businesses in Oklahoma face some tough questions. The biggest are how to track their money, how to pay taxes when you operate on a cash-only basis (since the IRS charges more for taxes paid in cash), and how to find the time to count the literal stacks of cash you have on hand. This doesn’t even address the danger of having so much cash stored in one place, opening businesses up to be victims of robberies or other violent crimes. Consumers also pay a price because they have to deal only in cash when purchasing their Oklahoma medical marijuana.
Oklahoma Bankers Association members can work with cannabis businesses in Oklahoma now, but have to weigh up whether or not it’s worth being alienated by other financial institutions and vendors by doing so. They also have to think about the risk it puts their banking institution under on a federal level, since their obligatory daily reporting essentially incriminates them.
Of course, banks must consider that working with medical marijuana businesses in Oklahoma is incredibly lucrative. It brings in a lot of cash that can improve their assets and liquidity. All of these issues can be remedied by enacting cannabis banking in Oklahoma and in other medical marijuana states as well.
What About You?
In Oklahoma, you must always ensure you have a current and legal medical marijuana card on hand if you want to enjoy the benefits of the program in the Sooner State. Work with your doctor or a telemedicine site like MMJ Recs to secure your medical marijuana card by having your state-issued identification, U.S. photo ID, or Passport, Tribal ID card, or Oklahoma ID card at the ready to prove your residency and age to get your evaluation started. Once you have the card, you must have it renewed every two years.
Medical marijuana is a growing industry. As it gains acceptance across the United States, issues such as those with Oklahoma cannabis banking will be addressed. Until then, patients need to keep doing what is right for them, and businesses must figure out how to walk the grey area between legality in Oklahoma and illegality on a federal level.