This afternoon, a Senate panel voted 16-14 to make it easier for businesses that produce and sell marijuana to do business with banks and other financial services providers.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment that would loosen laws that make it illegal for banks to handle money from marijuana businesses. Over the years, the laws have led to numerous situations where many businesses have had to use cash to do business, causing security problems and other issues.
The legislation was added to a Treasury funding measure by Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley. Oregon is one of four states where recreational marijuana is legal. It actually passed the House last year but was removed.
Three Republicans on the Senate panel — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Steve Daines of Montana — voted for the amendment. Dianne Feinstein of California was the only panel Democrat to oppose it.