Fed Reserve chair: Without lawmakers’ guidance, banks can’t take cannabis money

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The chairman of the Federal Reserve signaled at a news conference the central bank is not prepared to give federally chartered banks a green light to serve marijuana businesses in legal markets – at least until lawmakers clarify discrepancies between state and federal law.

“This is a very difficult area, because many state laws permit the use of marijuana and federal law still doesn’t,” MarketWatch quoted the Fed chief, Jerome Powell, as saying. “So it puts federally chartered banks in a very difficult situation.”

“Of course, our mandate has nothing to do with marijuana,” he added. “We would love to see it clarified.”

U.S. senators have pitched a bipartisan bill that would resolve banking issues for cannabis businesses in legal markets, but analysts say marijuana bills face an uphill battle ahead of November’s midterm elections.

As if to underscore that, a House committee rejected a marijuana banking measure, Forbes reported.

Banking is a huge pain point for cannabis companies, so some states are proposing their own solutions.

State banks without federal charters can do business with cannabis companies in states with legal medical and recreational markets, MarketWatch reported, but a federal solution would provide more security for cannabis businesses.