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US Senate Votes to Remove Government Banking Restrictions on Cannabis Businesses

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The Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment that would provide ample protections to financial institutions that deal with the cannabis industry. The amendment would change everything- opening up the doors to normal banking transactions that other industries

The Senate narrowly passed the amendment 16-14, which makes changes to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The legal industry is forced to deal in cash, creating headaches for everyone.

The amendment prevents federal spending on punishing banks that choose to deal with cannabis-related businesses.

“The federal government should not be forcing Oregon’s legal marijuana businesses to carry gym bags full of cash to pay their taxes, employees, and bills,” said Senator Jeff Merkley(D-Oregon). “This is an invitation to robberies, money laundering, and organized crime. We need to enable our banks to serve these legal businesses without fearing devastating reprisals from the federal government.” Merkley and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) have been working together to make banking easier for cannabis businesses.

Meanwhile in Washington, the state’s Liquor and Cannabis board finally passed rules which allow cannabis-related businesses to pay their tax bill online, like other businesses.

“This amendment is really about providing clarity, stability, and security for our banks, credit unions, and small business owners who want to be able to operate in full daylight,” said Sen. Patty Murray. “The people in my home state of Washington spoke in favor of marijuana legalization years ago, and as the voice for my state, I will continue to push to help legal businesses access banking services without the fear of prosecution.”

The cash-status of the cannabis industry is no more apparent than on the tax season, when cannabis collectives dump all their tax revenue in piles at the tax office. Every step of the way is complicated by preventing online transactions.

Many business owners are wary of new legislation because they are concerned they might just open up another loophole for the federal government to collect money.

Two bills, S. 1726 and H.R. 2076 have been introduced to the Senate and House which would solve the banking issues indefinitely. Both bills make up The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act and have begun to gain traction in the legislative process.

It’s the second time the Senate has tried to work a banking amendment into its budget. The National Cannabis Industry Association weighed in. “While an appropriations amendment isn’t a permanent fix to the banking problem, it is a significant step to correct a dangerous and unfair burden on responsible small-business owners and regulators, said the NCIA’s executive director Aaron Smith. “Bipartisan coalitions in both chambers have supported these reforms. It’s time to make them the law of the land.”

The banking industry accomplishes nothing by being stubborn about the 25 states that have legalized cannabis in one form or another. The new range of bills offers a new hope to businesses that hope to survive the competitive industry.

Benjamin Adams

Benjamin Adams has been a journalist since 2006 and is the Californian correspondent for Cannabusiness.com.

His written work has been seen in Cannabis Now Magazine, Culture Magazine, and Treating Yourself Magazine. He’s also written for Merry Jane and MedicalMarijuana.eu

Benjamin studied Art and Argumentative Writing at the University of Utah.

He’s tried cannabis in places ranging from Copenhagen to Jamaica.

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