Colo., Ore. Senators Support new Push to Bring Banking Access to Pot Industry

After 18 months of full-scale legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, the federal government and state governments here and elsewhere have not found a solution to providing access to legal banking to the industry.

Industry officials have long lamented the dangers this places on workers and stores, where armed guards and cameras often protect the enormous sums of cash these dispensaries handle on a daily basis. In some cases, electric bills and payroll are also paid in cash.

However, federal lawmakers from Colorado and Oregon are working on moving forward a bill that would provide banks “immunity from federal prosecution or investigation” if those banks provide services to legitimate marijuana businesses.

The bill is called the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2015, and it states that a “legitimate marijuana business” includes manufacturers, producers, owners or operators of not only the marijuana itself, but the real estate provider or equipment provider that leases property to marijuana businesses.

“We need this,” said Mike Elliott, the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group. “It’s still a huge problem for us and banks need to know that this is legal – not that it just isn’t being enforced – but that working with us is legal.”

Since marijuana remains a strictly-illegal prohibited drug under federal law, the chances for passage of the new legislation remain unclear.

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