A new measure has been approved by the U.S. Senate Committee that would allow banking institutions to offer financial services to marijuana businesses. State-legalized marijuana businesses will soon be able to operate as a traditional business with a traditional banking system. Thus far, banking services have not been available to a majority of marijuana businesses due to marijuana’s illegal federal status.
Senator Jeff Merkley is the author of the amendment, Marijuana Policy Project reports. The amendment prevents the spending of funds that prohibit and penalize banks/financial institutions that provide banking services to state-legal marijuana-related businesses. Given that most banking institutions fear federal penalties and prosecution, very few have even attempted to work with marijuana-related businesses.
Marijuana Policy Project’s federal policies director, Robert Capecchi said, “More than half of the U.S. population lives in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal for adult or medical use. Millions of marijuana consumers are relying on licensed and regulated businesses to provide them with safe and legal access to marijuana.”
Capecchi continued by saying, “Current federal policy all but ensures marijuana businesses operate on a cash-only basis, which raises safety concerns for their employees and the surrounding communities. This measure should ease the financial institutions’ concerns about opening accounts for those state-legal businesses.”
There are still more steps before the amendment becomes law. A full Senate approval must come first. Following that, the House must include proper language in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The final step is a Presidential signature.