House Dems Push to Allow Banks’ Pot Business

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Banks haven’t been able to cash in on marijuana money, but there’s new momentum to change that with Democrats taking charge of the House, Politico reports. With anti-pot Attorney General Jeff Sessions gone and more states legalizing weed, bankers who have grown increasingly frustrated by legal restrictions on the cannabis business are working with Democrats and Republicans to change laws curtailing transactions that deal with marijuana. The new push by banks to handle financial transactions for the pot industry is the latest sign that politics of marijuana are rapidly changing, as voters back legalization.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), who has taken the lead on legislation in the House, cites “a real opportunity” to move a bill aligning federal and state marijuana laws for banks and credit unions. Lenders want Congress to enact a safe harbor for banks and credit unions to serve marijuana businesses because the drug remains illegal at the federal level. The prohibition has made bankers concerned that they’ll face penalties from their federal regulators for taking money from the cannabis industry even in states where the sale of weed is legal. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Or.) has released a timeline outlining how to move ahead with legislation that would feed into a package of cannabis reform bills. “There’s no question: Cannabis prohibition will end,” Blumenauer said. “Democrats should lead the way. If we fail to act swiftly, I fear as the 2020 election approaches, Donald Trump will claim credit for our work in an effort to shore up support — especially from young voters.”

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