Oregon Senator Merkley Introduces Marijuana Banking Bill
By Habit 420
Oregon Cannabis Connection
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (D) introduced The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2017 to try to “solve a key logistical and public safety problem in states that have legalized medicinal or recreational cannabis.”
Co-sponsored by eight other senators, including Republicans Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Rand Paul (R-KY), Merkley introduced the bill to address the current problems surrounding legal cannabis businesses and their access to banking. With the federal laws prohibiting cannabis, banking laws do not allow a cannabis business to access standard banking services, as well as protect banks that help cannabis businesses from having their federal deposit insurance terminated or restricted. A press release on Wednesday explained:
“Currently, cannabis businesses operating under state laws that have legalized medicinal or recreational cannabis have been mostly denied access to the banking system because banks that provide them services can be prosecuted under federal law. Without the ability to access bank accounts, accept credit cards, or write checks, businesses must operate using large amounts of cash. This creates safety risks for businesses and surrounding communities, and makes it more difficult for local and state governments to collect taxes.”
“Forcing legal businesses to operate in all cash is an invitation to money laundering and robbery,” said Merkley. “It’s absurd that cannabis business owners in Oregon have to shuttle around gym bags full of cash to pay their taxes or compensate their employees. This is a public safety issue, and rather than making it even harder for banks to serve these legal businesses, President Trump and Attorney General Sessions should work with us to end this unnecessary risk for communities across America.”
The bill would prevent federal banking regulators from:
♦ Prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging a bank from providing financial services to a legitimate state-sanctioned and regulated cannabis business, or an associated business (such as an lawyer or landlord providing services to a legal cannabis business);
♦ Terminating or limiting a bank’s federal deposit insurance solely because the bank is providing services to a state-sanctioned cannabis business or associated business;
♦ Recommending or incentivizing a bank to halt or downgrade providing any kind of banking services to these businesses; or
♦ Taking any action on a loan to an owner or operator of a cannabis-related business.
A solution to the cannabis banking is desperately needed. This bill is a welcomed piece of legislation and goes hand in hand with a companion bill introduced in the House of Representatives in April by Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO). These problems must be addressed along with the Internal Revenue Service rules under IRS code 280e which do not allow typical business expenses to be deducted due to the Schedule I status of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.
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