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Bipartisan Senators Introduce a Bill to Legalize Banking for Marijuana Businesses

Jul 10, 2015 • 2:07 PM EDT
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2 MIN READ  •  By Michael Berger
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Yesterday, a group of bipartisan senators from Oregon and Colorado introduced a bill that would legalize banking for recreational marijuana businesses. The bill would prohibit the federal government from penalizing banks that work with marijuana businesses.

The bill was sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley (Democrat), Ron Wyden (Democrat), Michael Bennet (Democrat), Cory Gardner (Republican), and Patty Murray (Democrat).

An unnecessary risk

Many cannabis companies are having a tough time opening a bank account and it is putting innocent people at risk. A bank account serves as the lifeline of any business and it is tough to operate (successfully) without one. The high cash nature of a cannabis business requires access to a bank account and the federal government is putting these businesses in harm’s way.

To successfully operate a business, a company needs to have access to a bank account. The lack of support from financial institutions not only hinders growth, but also puts these all cash businesses in harm’s way. The recently submitted bipartisan bill helps alleviate some of these issues by creating banking solutions for cannabis businesses; hopefully, change does not come too late.

Current state of the industry is insane

Republican Senator Cory Gardner said, “If you’re an employee or a store owner you can’t put money in the bank, but if you’re a municipality collecting tax you can collect the tax, you can put it in the bank and you can spend it. This is insane. It solves a public safety issue, it clarifies a regulatory nightmare and it clears up a pretty blatant hypocrisy.”

Gardner noted that Republican Senator Orrin Hatch now supports a bipartisan bill which excludes cannabidiol (CBD) from the definition of marijuana in federal law. Gardner expects Congress to eventually come along.

Gardner added, “Ever since Colorado voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, conflicting federal and state marijuana laws have required banks to refuse basic financial services to marijuana-related businesses in Colorado. In turn, this has forced the industry to adopt an all-cash business model that fosters violent crime and puts all Coloradans at risk.” 

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Authored By

Michael Berger

Michael Berger is Managing Partner of StoneBridge Partners, LLC and Founder of Technical420.com. Prior to entering the cannabis industry, Michael was an Equity Research Analyst at Raymond James Financial covering the Energy Sector. Michael has been featured in publications such as The Street, Bloomberg, US Money News, and hosts various cannabis events across North America.

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