Senate panel votes to give pot shops access to banks

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The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 16-14 on an amendment that would prevent federal funds from being used to prohibit or penalize financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses in states where it’s legal.

“In both the medicinal world and recreational world, they are rarely able to be served by our banks because of the federal law and that results in a huge cash economy that is an invitation to crime and malfeasance,” said Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, who offered the amendment.

{mosads}Merkley explained that pot enterprises legal under state law, such as those in his home state of Oregon, cannot put money into bank accounts.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) opposed the amendment because it applies to recreational use of the drug.

“This amendment very clearly states that it applies to medical marijuana and recreational marijuana,” she said.

The amendment was added to a bill that would fund Financial Services and General Government services for the next fiscal year.

Merkley, along with Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), recently introduced similar legislation that would allow legal marijuana businesses to access banking services.

Tags Cory Gardner Jeff Merkley Michael Bennet Ron Wyden Susan Collins

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