Washington, D.C. — Pot shops would have access to banks under new legislation in the Senate. The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, introduced Thursday in the Senate, would allow marijuana companies to store their money in banks.
Dispensaries are currently blocked from the banking system. Even though a number of states have legalized the use of medical and recreational marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law.
This pot paradox has forced many marijuana businesses to keep their cash in their stores because banks are prohibited from doing businesses with them.
The marijuana legislation would wipe away these prohibitions. The senators say this would improve safety and streamline taxes in the industry.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), one of the sponsors of the bill, called the present rule an “invitation to crime.”
“Current federal laws are making marijuana businesses sitting ducks for violent crimes and perpetuating negative stereotypes,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), another sponsor of the bill.
Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are also backing the legislation.
Marijuana groups said the bill would be a step in the right direction.
“Without banks, many of our members are forced to operate entirely in cash, which puts their employees at risk for crime,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “The legal marijuana industry is worth nearly $3 billion nationwide. We shouldn’t be forced to carry that around in duffel bags.”