Bank officials and others urged Congress on Wednesday to fully open the doors of the U.S. banking system to the state-legal marijuana industry, a change supporters say would reduce the risk of crime and resolve a litany of challenges for cannabis companies, from paying taxes to getting a loan.
California Treasurer Fiona Ma, whose state is home to the nation’s largest legal marijuana market, called the proposed so-called SAFE Banking Act a critical step for the rapidly expanding industry.
Gregory Deckard, who spoke on behalf of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said the cloud of legal uncertainty was inhibiting access to banks while creating safety hazards for businesses.
The proposal, he said, “would offer the needed clarity” for more financial institutions to welcome the marijuana industry as customers.
But others had concerns.
Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri said the proposal would create confusion while marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
With the banking legislation, “we are putting the cart before the horse,” he said.
Legalization advocates have reason to celebrate that the hearing simply took place at all before the Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee. The proposal, or similar versions, have languished for years.
– Associated Press