Cannabusinesspeople may soon be able to bank in California just like normal folk. On Tuesday the California Senate approved a bill that would create state-licensed banks, which would allow for legal cannabis businesses to enjoy many of the banking services they have been deprived of since time out of mind.
Though recreational cannabis is legal in California, and in nine other states across the country, you wouldn’t know it from the strict banking restrictions imposed on them. Because of federal regulations concerning Schedule I controlled substances, licensed marijuana businesses are still forced to deal mostly in cash.
As a state-commissioned panel reported last year, this has made “cannabis businesses, their employees, and their customers targets of violent crime.”
The problem has led to some pretty desperate solutions, including a proposed system of state-owned vaults and armored cars which California’s Treasurer suggested in 2017.
While allowing for legal cannabis banking would be a lot more practical than a fleet of armored cars, the bill passed on Tuesday does not solve all problems concerned in the issue.
For one thing, it’s still not law yet. Though the measure passed 35-1 in the senate, it still needs the approval of the state Assembly and Governor Gavin Newsom.
Additionally, legalizing it at the state level is a great start, but it doesn’t change the fact that banking with purveyors of cannabis is still against federal law. As CNBC reports, there are still “questions about whether banks and credit unions in California will participate, given the potential for the U.S. government to crack down.”
Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, predicts that California’s measure will put pressure on lawmakers in Washington to make changes to their cannabis policy. “Congress will have to act because there’s all the interstate ramifications of banking that just really cry out for federal lawmakers to do something in this space.” Here’s hoping that he’s right.
Photo via Flickr user Dank Depot