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Marijuana Banking Bill Introduced

Since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, both medical and non-medical marijuana businesses are unable to access banking services.  This leads to many marijuana businesses operating under a cash-only basis, which puts them at a higher risk to be victims of robberies due to excessive amount of cash kept on the premises.  Because of this, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, a bill that would allow banks to provide depository and other financial services to state-legal marijuana businesses.

Part of the purpose of legalizing cannabis is to recognize it as a legitimate business.  “Whether you are for or against legalization, you have to recognize that having marijuana businesses handling huge amounts of cash with nowhere to deposit the money is a public safety concern that Congress has to tackle," said Michael Collins, Policy Manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs.  There are many significant public safety concerns associated with businesses that cannot access banking services like other businesses.

Small businesses, marijuana dispensaries included, pour thousands into security measures like armed guards, floor sensors, and even panic buttons because of the great risk of victimization as they handle huge amounts of cash on a daily basis.  Amy Margolis of the Oregon Cannabis Association stated, "The biggest crisis the cannabis industry faces is the lack of access to banking… No licensed, compliant business should have to place themselves, and their community, in danger because they cannot open and maintain a bank account."

Congress is finally starting to pay attention to the banking issue within the cannabis industry.  The bill already has 11 bipartisan cosponsors.