This week, the House briefly considered the possibility of allowing American banks to do business with legal marijuana businesses, a small step forward for the growing industry.
On Thursday night, a House panel briefly debated a proposed amendment which would allow financial service providers to work with cannabis dispensaries and other legal weed operations without threat of legal action.
Though the Amendment was debated, no vote was held on it, leaving current law regarding the two industries in place.
The Amendment was proposed by California Democrat Barbara Lee, who sought to block the Treasury Department and other financial regulators from going after banks merely for doing business with legal weed organizations. The amendment was proposed in the interest of providing safety to cannabis businesses who are often targets of robbery based on their cash-only model.
Currently, most banks and financial institutions will not work with any businesses in the cannabis industry because they face the very real possibility of being prosecuted for money laundering for doing so. As a result, marijuana businesses are often forced to operate cash-only, limiting them in many ways and making them targets for robbery.
Lee failed to call for a vote on the Amendment, likely because she feared it might fail. At the time of debate, it was after 11:00 at night and lawmakers were likely tired.
The need to remove penalties against financial institutions who wish to do business with legitimate, organized businesses who just happen to be involved with cannabis is clear; as states continue to decriminalize, legalize and regulate marijuana across the board, federal regulation and legislation will have to rush to adapt.