A new bipartisan bill would allow state-legal marijuana businesses to become listed on national stock exchanges, as well as facilitating access to financial services.
The Capital Lending and Investment for Marijuana Businesses (CLIMB) Act was introduced by Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) and Troy Carter (D-LA).
The legislation is similar in many respects to the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, insofar as it would protect financial institutions from federal intervention for providing bank accounts and loans to state-legal cannabusinesses.
The CLIMB Act goes further though in extending protections to national securities exchanges, such as nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange, that “have listed, list, or intend to list, or permits the trading, or facilitates the offering, listing, or trading on a national securities exchange, of the securities of a cannabis-related legitimate business or a service provider.”
The measure would also prohibit federal authorities from sanctioning any business or government organization for “receiving funding, appropriations, grants, contracts, or other forms of monetary or non-monetary assistance from a government authority, or from marketing, offering, or selling any security, banking, or insurance or other financial services product” with regards to marijuana-related businesses.
This means, for instance, that the Small Business Administration (SBA) would be able to support state-legal marijuana businesses without the threat of federal intervention.
“The bipartisan CLIMB Act is a huge opportunity to bring equity and equal opportunity into our nation’s burgeoning cannabis industry,” Carter said via press release. “From my work on the Small Business Committee and by working directly with small, minority, and veteran-owned cannabis businesses, it’s clear that access to capital remains one of the biggest barriers to entry and to success in the industry.”
“By bringing symmetry into the business ecosystem with the CLIMB Act, we can help communities that have long been harmed by the criminalization of marijuana move to now be leaders in the business sphere—and that’s what the American Dream is all about,” he added.
While similar to the SAFE Banking Act, which remains at an impasse on Capitol Hill despite its repeated approval by the House of Representatives, the CLIMB Act is more targeted in its approach to reforming the financial regulatory framework surrounding the cannabis industry. Marijuana reform advocates note the measure would serve to increase access to capital for women and minority-owned cannabusinesses. The SAFE Banking Act, meanwhile, would simply provide a broad safeguard for financial institutions against federal interference.
Justin Strekal, founder of Better Organizing to Win Legalization, takes a different view though. He criticizes the CLIMB Act for not mandating the SBA to provide assistance to marijuana businesses, noting the agency’s historic reluctance to do so. Furthermore, he fears the measure would accelerate market consolidation in the cannabis industry to the detriment of small, typically women and minority-owned, businesses.
“By allowing Wall Street to invest millions, possibly even billions of dollars to their well-connected friends just now entering the cannabis industry, the CLIMB Act could inadvertently be a catalyst for even further consolidation in this emerging nascent marketplace,” Strekal said. “This would be in stark contrast to everything that activists and advocates have fought for over the decades.”
The CLIMB Act’s introduction comes at a time of the SAFE Banking Act’s latest setback. After much debate, congressional leaders agreed to drop provisions for the marijuana banking reform from the America COMPETES Act, a broader bill aimed at revitalizing the country’s manufacturing industries.