WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Although many states have legalized recreational and medicinal marijuana sales, many of those businesses are forced to operate with cash only, and some lawmakers in Washington worry about the criminal activity that kind of cash attracts.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), as well as industry professionals, say it also makes businesses more vulnerable to becoming victims of crimes, such as robberies.
“It has the potential for money laundering, it has the potential for cheating on your taxes,” Merkley said.
“We have employees that don’t have any idea the risk that they’re actually taking on just to feed their families,” added Chris Jackson from the NCIA.
The Safe Banking Act would change the laws, allowing banks to work with the cannabis industry, giving those businesses access to payroll accounts, business loans and more.
“Small business, minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses have a much tougher time accessing the capital markets,” said Sen. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.).
Perlmutter also said the U.S. House has passed the Safe Banking Act seven times in the past three years, but the legislation has repeatedly failed to make it through the Senate.
A group of bipartisan senators is working on updating the Safe Banking Act to get more support from both parties.
“Finally, bring the cannabis economy into a sane, modern economy,” Merkley said.
With nine current Republican sponsors, supporters hope this is the year the bill finally makes it to the President’s desk.