Oregon Governor Signs Marijuana Banking Bill

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill Monday afternoon that protects financial institutions working with marijuana businesses from state criminal prosecution.

The new law, however, does not protect financial institutions from federal prosecution, so it isn’t likely to persuade banks and credit unions in Oregon to start servicing marijuana businesses.

While marijuana is legal in Oregon, it remains illegal under federal law, so most financial institutions refuse to take marijuana businesses as clients, even though the U.S. Treasury Department has issued guidelines under which banks could open marijuana-related accounts.

Despite having no effect on federal laws, the bill was still welcomed by marijuana industry advocates and bankers as a positive step.

“This bill is an important indicator of marijuana businesses’ need for banking and the struggle between state and federal law,” said attorney Amy Margolis of the Emerge Law Group in Portland. “Without a serious change to federal law the banks are unwilling to open their doors to these types of customers.”

“The bill is helpful, but the bigger burden is the Controlled Substances Act,” said Kevin Christiansen, government affairs director at the Oregon Bankers Association, referring to the federal law that prosecutors could theoretically use against banks that work with cannabis companies.

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5 comments on “Oregon Governor Signs Marijuana Banking Bill
  1. Larry Kinney on

    When the people (and local officials) take the lead, the feds are likely to follow. But it will take a while longer before the stumble on the obvious; it’s in the interests of the government to have open banking. The giant wheel of the federal government moves at glacial speed, particularly at its axis (in Washington) and especially as elections approach.

  2. Chris Wirth on

    leaves the door open for “cooperative banking”…as co-operative” is key word. as in small organizations are able to work with credit unions or other larger banking institutions….Launching off micro-banking! and free enterprise!, we treasure!……Caution! :)…have clean accountability and numbers, no problemo, if not, you’re name will be on the “naughty list!’

  3. Sam Chapman on

    Actually, it is helping banks better service the industry. A local credit may be soon announcing that it will be opening accounts for all OLCC licensed businesses. Stay tuned.

  4. Chris Geddie on

    State tax revenue has to be defended in this space. Symbolic or not. The trend of state officials backing this industry will truly help pull many bankrupt cities out of debt.

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