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.

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 MerkleyJeff MerkleySanders warns Clinton: Don't rush to compromise with GOP Overnight Healthcare: Top ObamaCare lobbyists reject 'public option' push | Groups sound alarm over Medicare premium hike Top ObamaCare lobbyists reject 'public option' push 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 WydenRon WydenDem pushes Treasury for info on Syria sanctions The holy grail of tax policy Senators urge resolution of US, Canada softwood lumber deal MORE (D-Ore.), another sponsor of the bill.

Sens. Cory GardnerCory GardnerGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Administration vows 'proportional' response to Russian hack Trump denies Russia behind attack, despite fed investigation saying otherwise MORE (R-Colo.), Michael BennetMichael BennetSenate poll raises Republican hopes in Pennsylvania, Florida Podesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs GOP Senate candidate reverses course, says he’ll vote Trump MORE (D-Colo.) and Patty MurrayPatty MurrayWhat the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress Senate Dems demand answers from Wells Fargo over treatment of military A fight for new rights 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.”