Last Thursday, US Senator and Republican presidential contender Rand Paul joined senators from Oregon, Washington, and Colorado in introducing the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, a bill that would “create protections for depository institutions that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses.” A house version of the bill was also introduced in April of this year.
Under current anti money laundering laws, many banks fear that attempts to extend banking services to marijuana dispensaries in pot-legal states will be met with retribution by regulators. Yahoo Finance’s Meena Thiruvengadam wrote that the bill would “prohibit banking regulators from penalizing or discouraging banks from providing financial services to marijuana businesses operating in areas of the US where marijuana has been legalized.” She noted that it would also “ban regulators from terminating federal deposit insurance at banks providing services to state-sanctioned marijuana businesses” and “create a safe harbor from criminal prosecution, liability and asset forfeiture for financial institutions who provide services to marijuana businesses operating legally.”
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement on the bill, “By compelling Oregon business owners to operate on a cash-only basis, current federal laws are making marijuana businesses sitting ducks for violent crimes and perpetuating negative stereotypes. It is ridiculous to make any business owner carry duffle bags of cash just to pay their taxes.”
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) said, “Ever since Colorado voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, conflicting federal and state marijuana laws have required banks to refuse basic financial services to marijuana-related businesses in Colorado. In turn, this has forced the industry to adopt an all-cash business model that fosters violent crime and puts all Coloradans at risk. This commonsense legislation solves a major public safety problem in my state by giving legitimate businesses acting in compliance with state laws access to the banking system.”
US Senator Rand Paul recently topped Marijuana Policy Project’s ranking of current 2016 presidential candidates in terms of their friendliness to pro-marijuana legislation and made history last month when he became the first presidential candidate to openly court donations from America’s emerging legal marijuana industry. Earlier this year, Paul reached across the aisle in co-sponsoring the bipartisan Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act, which would end the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and scientific cannabis research.
Last September, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.