California treasurer lays out first steps toward state marijuana bank

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Following up on a plan he announced last year, California state Treasurer John Chiang on Tuesday outlined the foundation for a public bank for cannabis businesses so they won’t have to operate on a cash-only basis.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Chiang and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra have been working in concert on a cost-benefit analysis to figure out if such a venture would actually work.

So far, the plan is to “conduct a feasibility study” in which:
  • The treasurer’s office would focus on costs, benefits and risks.
  • The attorney general’s office would look at legal and regulatory issues surrounding a public MJ bank.

The study would deliver recommendations to policymakers by the end of the year, the Chronicle reported, including on how such a bank would be funded and structured, as well as whether it would have a physical location or operate entirely online.

Chiang, who is running for governor of California, is also working with 19 other states that have legal MJ industries in hopes they could establish similar financial institutions.

However, the jury is still out on whether state-level banking systems will work quickly enough for the cannabis industry or in the long run with marijuana still federally illegal.