Treasury Secretary Yellen gives nod to marijuana banking reform

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed implicit support this week for allowing state-legal marijuana companies to access federal banking services – as a way to help tax collection.

According to the New York Post, Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter, a longtime sponsor of cannabis banking reform, asked Yellen at a U.S. House Financial Services Committee meeting whether she thought allowing legal marijuana firms access to big banks would help the Internal Revenue Service collect taxes.

“Yes, of course it would,” Yellen reportedly answered.

Groups across the country, including large banks, increasingly have been advocating for the support of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.

SAFE would allow banks to do business with state-legal marijuana companies without fear of federal reprisal.

Currently, many marijuana businesses deal only with cash, raising public security issues.

The U.S. House passed SAFE. but the legislation has yet to gain traction in the more conservative Senate. And now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to tackle comprehensive marijuana reform.

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The latest effort is to try to include SAFE in the defense spending bill.

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also articulated support for a legislative solution to cannabis banking.

Mnuchin agreed it was a public-safety problem and also expressed concerns about the IRS handling cash from marijuana businesses.