On Tuesday, September 21st, BMD's own Banking and Cannabis Partner, Stephen Lenn, hosted a star-studded cast of panelists in a webinar titled Banking & Cannabis: Cannabis Lending, The Next Frontier. The webinar, which had to suspend registrations when hitting a maximum cap of 500, aimed to explore issues related to cannabis and banking, with a particular emphasis on lending. With the sponsorship and support of the Bankers Associations of Arizona, Colorado, Ohio and Utah, Steve was able to recruit an elite group of bankers, bank regulators, cannabis industry players, and cannabis regulators, who took the topic head on. The discussion kicked off with an opening from the keynote speaker, VP of Congressional Affairs for the American Bankers Association, Tanner Daniel.
Mr. Daniel opened the panel discussion with an observation that even though he never envisioned being involved in cannabis lobbying, yet the political climate and rapidly changing laws of cannabis thrust him into the space. With that, Mr. Daniel discussed the realities of passing the various pieces of legislation currently pending at the federal level, but a pervasive theme followed his comments and the rest of the conversation – banking the cannabis industry is here, and it going to keep moving forward!
From there, the discussion was passed onto the panel of bankers, industry players, and regulators who addressed banking and cannabis from their points of view. The robust conversation ranged from how bankers got into the business, their experience with regulators, how they perform risk-based assessments to categorize certain cannabis businesses when providing bank services, to issues facing cannabis executives and employees who are trying to obtain personal loans and mortgages, then topped off the discussion by describing how cannabis regulators interact with financial institutions throughout the licensing process.
The webinar ultimately created several important results. First, the program brought together prominent constituencies in the banking and cannabis space which will facilitate greater collaboration and future successes among those stakeholders. Second, it provided actionable information to the attendees – about 75% of whom were bankers representing more than 200 banks, including a dozen of the 56 largest. Finally, even if measured only by the level of interest reflected by capacity registration, it substantiates the almost inevitable expansion of banking for the cannabis industry – and that everyone must be ready.