ACT April Cannabis Accounting News
The Biden Administration is riding a high approval rating on the back of its COVID-19 response and the resulting gradual reopening of the country. As more things open up and the need for immediate reaction lessens, it’s only a matter of time before issues like a possible federal cessation of cannabis prohibition could gain more prominence. So as the “April showers” turn to “May flowers,” it’s important to look forward to a reality where legal adult-use cannabis is enjoyed in all 50 states.
House Passes Banking Reform Bill
A major legislative action aimed at paving the way for cannabis businesses to gain access to legitimate banking methods crossed a major threshold on April 19, as the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
Passed with a final vote of 321-101 the day before 4/20, more than half of the Republicans who voted on the measure did so in favor of it. Following its success in the House, this major piece of banking legislation is headed to the Senate. If passed there, it would end up on President Joe Biden’s desk to receive his signature, though the president remains opposed to legalization efforts.
“After years of bringing up this issue, I’m thrilled to see overwhelming support for this bipartisan, common sense legislation in the U.S. House once again,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), who co-sponsored the bill, said in a press release. “Congress needs to act in order to catch up with the will of the majority of voters across this county and to ensure we are reducing the public safety risk for our constituents and communities.”
If made into law, the SAFE Banking Act would make it easier for cannabis businesses to find banking solutions, which has long been a problem for entrepreneurs.
With Democrats now in control of both houses of Congress, proponents of the measure are optimistic that it will actually get a vote in the Senate. The same bill passed in the House last year, but was stymied by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-New York) predecessor, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). Schumer, who’s working on his own cannabis legalization bill, is very likely to allow a measure like the SAFE Banking Act to go for a vote on the floor.
Point-of-Sale Company Finds Retail Traffic Grew on 4/20
Findings from a prominent cannabis point-of-sale (POS) company revealed a slight uptick in retail sales last month as people partook in the annual 4/20 celebration. Cova Software, a leading manufacturer of the cannabis industry’s POS systems, found that retail traffic had gone up by 9.5% compared to last year, while sales as a whole saw an 8.4% uptick compared to 2020.
The company also revealed that their systems were able to process 380 cannabis transactions per minute, ultimately resulting in their POS systems completing more than 180,000 transactions across more than 1,200 North American dispensaries.
In a press release announcing the uptick, Cova CEO Gary Cohen acknowledged that last year was a different situation entirely. By April 2020, most of the country had begun locking down and only essential businesses were allowed to operate. Once cannabis dispensaries were deemed essential, Cohen said, the industry had to tackle unforeseen issues, though things looked up once things like curbside pickup and limits on the number of customers in a dispensary at a time.
“The supply of cannabis products was plentiful, but demand was a big question,” Cohen said. “It turned out there was huge demand from consumers and patients, and because of COVID relief checks in April, they had money to spend in dispensaries.”
By April 2021, however, employment has begun increasing and reopening efforts are moving along. Even though the latest stimulus package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, wasn’t timed around 4/1, Cohen said “2021 was a great 4/20.”
Further data surrounding 4/20, according to Cova Software, shows that the average transaction in the U.S. was $76.26, marking a 9% increase from 2020. Meanwhile, Canadian transactions saw a 2% decrease year-to-year at $52.48 thanks to a rash of new COVID cases, a slower vaccine rollout, and continued lockdowns in certain provinces.
University Unveils Cannabis Industry Certification
As more states continue mulling over their cannabis legalization plans, countless Americans are wondering how they can get in on the ground floor of a fledgling industry. Through a partnership with Green Flower, Syracuse University will begin offering an industry certification program to help entrepreneurs get started.
Currently consisting of three eight-week online courses, the certification program will focus on the Business of Cannabis, Agriculture and Horticulture, Law and Policy and Healthcare and Medicine. Those concentrations according to a press release, will intersect with existing credentials programs and will help professionals across multiple sectors.
“These new market-sensitive certificates represent Syracuse University’s role in supporting growth-oriented economic initiatives in New York State,” Michael Frasciello, dean of University College, said in the press release. “Online alternative credentials such as these certificates are designed to meet the growing demand for skills-based careers in emerging fields and sustainability-based industries, particularly among adult learners.”
This new addition to the university’s overall curriculum comes about a month after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill into law making adult-use cannabis legal.
Green Flower is no stranger to partnering with educational institutions to provide a cannabis certificate program. The cannabis education provider has also worked with Florida Atlantic University in the past to create a six-month, non-credit program.
“With the new legalization of cannabis in New York and neighboring states, cannabis knowledge and education will be in high demand and extremely popular as people begin to navigate the legal cannabis landscape and find ways to be a part of the predicted record growth,” Daniel Kalef, vice president of higher education at Green Flower, said in a statement. “We can think of no better university or group of people in the Empire State with whom to partner and are excited to begin offering these programs to the public this summer.”
Other colleges, like Northern Michigan University, the University of California at Riverside, the University of San Diego, Mount Aloysius College, Northwest Missouri State University, Western Washington University and St. Joseph’s University, have also added similar programs.
Philadelphia Cuts Cannabis from Pre-Employment Drug Tests
The days of frantically trying to figure out how to pass a pre-employment drug test after partaking in cannabis have come to an end for many Philadelphia workers, after the Philladelphia City Council passed a measure ending the practice. The newly approved measure passed with a 15-1 vote.
Though it prohibits pre-employment drug testing for cannabis, the measure still allows drug testing for “safety sensitive positions” like law enforcement officers, child care workers, or “any position in which the employee could significantly impact the health or safety of other employees or members of the public.” Unions that have drug tests included in their collective bargaining agreements are exempted from the measure. The exemption also doesn’t apply to anyone who is federally mandated to go through a pre-employment drug test.
Prior to the vote, Councilmember and bill sponsor Derek Green reminded his fellow council members and the general public that medical cannabis was legal in Pennsylvania. Afterwards, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the bill was fixing an issue that was getting in the way of advice from health care professionals.
“We’re using pre-employment testing for a product that is being recommended by physicians, for individuals within the city of Philadelphia, that’s authorized for them to be used,” he said. “That seems very contradictory.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will likely sign the bill into law in the coming weeks, with the measure to take full effect on January 1, 2022.
A New Season to Navigate Newly Opened Waters
There certainly is a lot to be optimistic about these days, what with lockdowns gradually lifting and the promise of better weather and seeing loved ones again. If you’re a small business owner looking to get into the cannabis industry, things are also pretty sunny these days. And as things get brighter for your prospects, you’re going to need someone in your corner to help guide you through the ins and outs of cannabis finance. By having the expert team at ACT on your side, you will be able to get answers to your questions and make the right decisions.