Politics

U.S. House of Representatives passes… marijuana banking bill

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday (9/25/2019) to let federally-insured banks work with cannabis shops and related companies in states that have legalized marijuana, marking the first ever federal vote on a stand-alone cannabis bill.

Some local banks and credit unions have quietly begun working with the industry in states where cannabis is legal. A report this summer from the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network shows some 633 financial institutions were actively banking marijuana-related businesses at the end of this year’s first quarter — up from just 407 at the start of 2018. A joint letter from the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and other advocacy groups urged House members not to approve the SAFE Banking Act for the same reason. “The banking bill does not solve the underlying problems of marijuana prohibition – namely, that many people of color have been saddled with criminal records for a substance that is now legal in many states, and that communities have been shut out of the emerging and booming marijuana industry,” the advocacy groups wrote. But others approved of the new bill for similar reasons. Backers, including Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, and Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, argued that barriers to banking services disproportionately hurts women and communities of color. Without access to traditional business loans, they said cannabis entrepreneurs are forced to fund their own efforts or rely on a network of investors. And since women and minorities statistically have less preexisting wealth, they’re at a disadvantage under the current system, which means the emerging legal cannabis industry continues to be dominated by wealthy white men.

Original Article (Mercury News):
U.S. House of Representatives passes historic marijuana banking bill
Artwork Fair Use: Adrian Pingstone

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