Survey: Cannabis Companies Cite Lack of Banking Access as the “Top Issue” Facing the Industry

Portland, OR: Businesses’ lack of access to traditional financial services and capital is perceived to be the greatest hurdle facing the cannabis industry, according to survey data compiled by Whitney Economics

Researchers compiled opinions from 396 licensed cannabis companies on existing challenges in the US marketplace. Over 70 percent of respondents said that the “lack of access to banking or investment capital” was their top challenge. By comparison, only 42 percent of respondents cited “state regulations” as the most significant burden facing the industry, and only 39 percent cited the “influence of the illicit market.”

Federal laws and regulations strongly discourage banks and other financial institutions from partnering with licensed cannabis companies because marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. On five separate occasions, US House lawmakers have passed legislation, The SAFE Banking Act, to amend federal banking laws, but Senate leadership has refused to ever debate the issue. 

According to the Whitney Economics survey, fewer than half of respondents (42 percent) are currently making a profit and only 40 percent believe that “the industry is heading in the right direction.”

Full text of the Whitney Economics report, “US Cannabis Business Conditions Survey Report,” is available for download.