New bill would let marijuana shops use banks

New bill would let marijuana shops use banks

Pot shops would have access to banks under new legislation in the Senate.

The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, introduced Thursday in the Senate, would allow marijuana companies to store their money in banks.

Dispensaries are currently blocked from the banking system. Even though a number of states have legalized the use of medical and recreational marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law.

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This pot paradox has forced many marijuana businesses to keep their cash in their stores because banks are prohibited from doing businesses with them.

The marijuana legislation would wipe away these prohibitions. The senators say this would improve safety and streamline taxes in the industry.

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyEarly tax bill reality very different than Democratic rhetoric Senate GOP seeks to change rules for Trump picks Dem senators tear into Trump: Tax bill 'a very big Christmas gift from Trump to himself' MORE (D-Ore.), one of the sponsors of the bill, called the present rule an “invitation to crime.”

“Current federal laws are making marijuana businesses sitting ducks for violent crimes and perpetuating negative stereotypes,” said Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWeek ahead: Senate takes up surveillance bill This week: Time running out for Congress to avoid shutdown Senate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump MORE (D-Ore.), another sponsor of the bill.

Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDurbin: Senators to release immigration bill Wednesday GOP senators eager for Romney to join them Gardner: Bipartisan DACA solution possible despite Trump's 's---hole countries' comment MORE (R-Colo.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDurbin: Senators to release immigration bill Wednesday Trump's 's---hole' controversy shows no sign of easing Dem senator: 'No question' Trump's 's---hole countries' comment is racist MORE (D-Colo.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCDC director to miss fourth hearing because of potential ethics issues Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding Ryan suggests room for bipartisanship on ObamaCare MORE (D-Wash.) are also backing the legislation.

Marijuana groups said the bill would be a step in the right direction.

“Without banks, many of our members are forced to operate entirely in cash, which puts their employees at risk for crime,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “The legal marijuana industry is worth nearly $3 billion nationwide. We shouldn’t be forced to carry that around in duffel bags.”