Congressional Democrats Schedule First Marijuana Banking Hearing

Rep. Perlmutter and Heck

Running a business may be looking a lot safer for the legal cannabis industry in the U.S. — now that Democrats control the House.

The chamber’s new majority on Wednesday announced a first hearing to discuss the banking woes that have plagued marijuana businesses since the first legal medical operations opened in the United States in the late 1990s.

More than two decades after legalization, on Feb. 13, a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing to analyze the issues facing legal marijuana businesses attempting to open and maintain bank accounts.

The hearing is entitled “Challenges and Solutions: Access to Banking Services for Cannabis-Related Businesses.”

And it comes not a moment too soon.

Tales still abound among industry insiders of the trials and tribulations of operating massive cash businesses. The ever-looming threat of robberies, the cost of transporting piles of cash, means of paying state and local taxes, and the impossibility of a line of credit are only a few issues facing legal marijuana businesses.

Owners have long scoffed at the banking industries unwillingness to take their business. But without a Federal guarantee that those financial institutions won’t be prosecuted for money laundering or racketeering, those cultivators, dispensary owners and ancillary businesses are still left carting around truckloads of cash, and attending the funerals of dispensary security guards.

“When we introduced this bill six years ago, we warned that forcing these businesses to deal in cash was threatening public safety. No hearing was given,” Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) said in an email to Forbes of his collaboration with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO).

Perhaps now, the government can provide a solution to the cannabis industry’s banking paradox.

“We have a bipartisan proposal to allow well-regulated marijuana businesses to handle their money in a way that is safe and effective for law enforcement to track. I am eager to get to the work of refining it and passing it into law,” Heck said.

The hearing will be broadcast live on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. EST at https://financialservices.house.gov/.

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