Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate on Thursday would solve a key issue for the marijuana industry: Its lack of access to financial services.
While a growing number of states are moving to legalize cannabis for recreational or medical use, ongoing federal prohibition makes many banks wary of working with state-licensed operators. As a result, marijuana growers, processors and retailers are largely forced to operate on a cash-only basis, which can make them targets for robberies.
But under a new bill filed by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), along with 20 other cosponsors, banks would be shielded from being punished by federal regulators for maintaining accounts for state-approved cannabis businesses.
The introduction of the bill, the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, comes two weeks after similar legislation cleared the House Financial Services Committee in a bipartisan vote of 45 to 15. That House bill now has 160 cosponsors signed on—more than a third of the entire chamber.
On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated during a Capitol Hill hearing that he supports the move to increase banking access for marijuana businesses.
Read the original article here: forbes.com
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