There are many challenges that face the cannabis industry as it grows – and until the federal law changes, it is entirely up to individual states to come up with their own laws and regulations. The thing is, there are some things that there hasn’t been much of a way around – one of those big roadblocks being banking.
Due to multiple federal laws, banking – whether at a traditional bank or credit union – has so far been something that cannabis industry businesses simply have had to deal without. This has led to a slew of different issues from the fact that shops taking cash-only are much more likely to be robbed to the fact that this is a multi-million dollar legal business operating in cash only.
The dangers of having this much cash floating around have been of big concern to many since Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana back in 2012 – but Oregon is the first state to work out a way to at least somewhat protect banks and credit unions, allowing them to take on legitimate marijuana business owners.
“This is an important first step in reducing risk and providing security for banks, credit unions, and the public” said Tobias Read, the sponsor of the bill in the House. “Without a clear timeline from the federal government, the state needs a solution, even if it’s temporary.”
The proposed bill is one of many that will be passing through the legislature this month – and so far it has passed through the House with a landslide vote of 56-3. Now it is headed to the Senate, where if approved it will be signed into law.
“The need for baking reforms is nothing new to the cannabis industry,” said New Economy Consulting’s Sam Chapman. “However, now that a state agency has been tasked with the collection of cannabis tax revenue, the regulators, the state, and the industry are all in the same boat. This fact should send a clear message to Congress to accelerate their work on reforming banking laws at the federal level.”
If passed it would exempt financial institutions from any state criminal penalties for providing services or lending to legally operating marijuana businesses. This is the first bill to be proposed of this sort in any of the states to legalize – and lawmakers are hoping that this will lead into the federal government realizing it’s time to figure something out.
Hopefully, after the successful passage of this bill in Oregon, other states will start to adopt similar policies. There are just so many aspects of the marijuana industry that are still being kept in the dark, so to speak – a cash-only industry doesn’t feel as legitimate as the law says it is after all.