The state legal marijuana industry has a big business problem and the United States Financial Services Committee does not want to offer any assistance. Marijuana businesses that touch the cannabis plant and even many ancillary businesses are unable to deposit money into banks. Banks are worried they will be breaking federal law and accused of money laundering if they accept funds from cannabis businesses.
The ultimate cure would be to reschedule marijuana, but in the meantime the cannabis industry is desperately looking for solutions to having to keep cash under their mattresses. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and the use of blockchain technology are being seriously looked at as a solution despite its volatility and lack of true financial backing.
Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) wants to solve this problem. Last Wednesday, at a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee, he offered an amendment that would have prevented federal authorities for punishing banks just for working with legal marijuana businesses.
“The regulatory confusion around marijuana and banking needs to be resolved,” Perlmutter said during the markup. “Prohibition is over. This committee has a responsibility to align the laws of the United States with those of the states so that there isn’t confusion. Public safety is at risk.”
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) reserved a point of order against the measure, claiming it was not germane to the overall bill on stress testing for financial institutions. (As an aside, the GOP lawmaker did mention that his daughter resides in Colorado and that they talk about marijuana issues “a lot”).
Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) ruled to uphold Luetkemeyer’s point or order. Perlmutter then made a motion to appeal the ruling of the chair, but Luetkemeyer motioned to table consideration of Perlmutter’s move.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) spoke in support of Perlmutter’s amendment.
“Someday we will realize that this is a federal issue that must be dealt with,” she said.
Money seems to be the linchpin of marijuana legalization. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is tenuously keeping funds from federal authorities that may prosecute state legalized marijuana and Republicans in the Financial Services Committee are preventing banks from accepting money from state legalized marijuana businesses. Isn\’t money always the problem?