Federal rules have already softened up for banks that want to do business with marijuana businesses in states where medical and recreational pot is legal.
But it’s still a risk.
New legislation by senators in Colorado and Oregon is seeking to take most of the risk out of banking for an increasingly legal business.
Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act last last week.
Supporters of the law say too many dispensaries and collectives have to conduct cash-only transactions out of fear of federal reporting guidelines.
“The move sounds like a minor regulatory matter, the lack of clear financial guidelines represents the single greatest obstacle to state-legal marijuana businesses operating safely and profitably,” states the pro-pot group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA) have introduced a similar bill in the house.
Supporters of the reform also say that all-cash revenues put pot business operators in danger and force them to implement expensive security measures. The lure of cash can draw robbers and increase crime, creating a self-fulfilling prophesy for those who say collectives attract lawlessness.
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of LEAP, says:
Right now, it’s the Wild West for marijuana businesses. Criminals know where the dispensaries are. They know the businesses are making thousands of dollars a day and that all of those transactions are in cash. It’s led to some horrific incidents, all courtesy of the federal government. They’re setting these businesses up to fail and, worse, they’re endangering people’s lives.