Trailblazers: Women Leading The Charge In Cannabis Banking

Trailblazers are individuals who take risks to make an impactful difference. From literally blazing trails in the forest to changing lives on an individual level such as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, trailblazers are change agents.

Commissioner Concepcion was appointed to the Cannabis Control Commission’s social justice seat in 2021 and has subsequently written many op-eds regarding equity issues within the industry.

1. Janet Matula of Gelato Canna Co.

Cannabis industry has experienced incredible growth over the past several years, even as some regulatory issues still linger.

Janet Matula has been instrumental in popularizing cannabis. As director of business development and compliance at Gelato Canna Co, located in California, she ensures products that are bold, colorful and happy-making are produced.

She has played an essential part in taking the company where it stands today.

Shanita Penny has made her mark as both an activist and entrepreneur in the cannabis space. She currently works as a lobbyist for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), as well as being founder of Budding Solutions – a boutique cannabis consultancy offering assistance for clients looking to establish and scale compliant businesses. Furthermore, she serves as director of Coalition for Cannabis Policy Education and Regulation’s Center of Excellence which champions social equity policies to increase diversity, equal access and economic empowerment for clients.

2. Amy Brown of Brown’s Botanicals

As with any new industry, cannabis presents many questions and challenges for credit unions. ICBA is currently working closely with credit unions to develop best practices and assist them as they explore its many opportunities.

Though legal in many states, marijuana remains unlawful at a federal level and this has crippled its industry by forcing businesses to deal in cash transactions that may put them at risk of theft, violence, muggings or money laundering.

But things are beginning to change as legislators take steps to address the issue. On September 27, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act was unanimously passed by the Senate Banking Committee with bipartisan votes of 14-9 and awaits full Senate floor vote. This law ensures federal regulators cannot penalize banks that provide services to state-legal MRBs; additionally, it mandates the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council create uniform exam guidelines for evaluating cannabis-related businesses.

4. Sarah Stephens

With federal cannabis still illegal at a federal level, banking providers for this industry are scarce. We will learn how these businesses have overcome challenges to secure bank accounts for themselves.

Banking-related legal issues are complex, and banks must fully comprehend how they function within an evolving marketplace. This requires understanding federal legislation like SAFER Act as well as state regulations like licensing and taxation requirements.

Katrina Skinner, Partner in Burns & Levinson’s industry-leading Cannabis Business and Law Advisory Group, assists regulated cannabis, hemp/CBD financial institutions establish comprehensive regulatory structures and compliance frameworks that will guarantee their long-term viability. Her unparalleled industry expertise and gravitas have allowed her to solve “first time” issues for clients across the nation while shaping the legal landscape of cannabis in many states. As lead author of Burns & Levinson’s industry-leading Cannabis Compliance Manual she frequently speaks on emerging legal issues facing this rapidly developing sector.


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