Oregon House Passes Bill Protecting Banks Working with Cannabis Businesses

moneycannabisIn a 56 to 3 vote, Oregon’s full House of Representatives has voted to give approval to House Bill 4094, a cannabis banking bill. The measure now heads to the state’s Senate, where its passage will send it to the governor for consideration.

Under the proposed law, introduced by Representative Tobias Read who is running for State Treasurer, banks and credit unions that do business with, and provide banking services to, cannabis businesses that are legal under state law will be exempt from any state liability. Obviously banks will still have to worry about federal law, but this would protect them from state persecution.

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U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Ease Cannabis Banking Laws

The United States House of Representatives has voted in support of making it easier for banks to do business with cannabis outletscannabismoney1 that are legal in the states they operate in.

The vote, which was 236 to 186, came Tuesday on legislation introduced by Louisiana Representative John Fleming, who was attempting to block the Treasury Department from implementing a memo it issued in February in conjunction with the Justice Department which tells banks that they won’t necessarily run afoul of federal law if they allow cannabis-related businesses to bank with them.

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U.S. Attorney General: Legal Marijuana Businesses Should Have Access to Banks

By Jack Healy and Matt Apuzzo, The New York Times

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Thursday that lawful marijuana businesses should have access to the American banking system and that the government would soonericholder offer rules to help them gain it. The rules are not expected to give banks a green light to accept deposits and provide other services, but would tell prosecutors not to prioritize cases involving legal marijuana businesses that use banks.

“You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these places. They want to be able to use the banking system,” Mr. Holder said at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia. “There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash, substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited, is something that would worry me, just from a law enforcement perspective.”

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Feds to Soon Release Memo Giving OK to Cannabis Banking

Cannabis businesses wanting the ability to bank legitimately are likely to get at least a “yellow light” allowing them to do so as soon as the new year, says Jack Finlaw, Chief Legal Counsel for Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. cannabismoney

“What we’re being told,” says Finlaw, “is probably in the first quarter of 2014 there will be some guidance issued that’s comparable to the Cole memo from the Department of Justice that will give, maybe not a green light, but a yellow light to banks to allow them to do business [with cannabis businesses] — to take deposits, to set up checking accounts, to set up small business loans, to allow these businesses to accept purchases through debit cards or credit cards, to allow what normal businesses are allowed to do.”

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Department of Justice Working to Allow, Regulate Transactions Between Banks, Cannabis Stores

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the governors of Washington and Colorado in a phone call Thursday that the Departmentbill-gives-states-marijuana-tax-power-thcf of Justice is “actively considering” ways to explicitly allow, and regulate transactions between banks and cannabis retail outlets in states where they’re legal.

This consideration, which will come as a surprise to many, is in huge contrast to current DEA policy which warns banks against transacting with marijuana businesses.

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