The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee today gave approval to an amendment that would allow banks to provide services to cannabis businesses that are legal under their state’s law. The amendment, put forth by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), was made to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill.
The amendment would prevent government entities from spending any federal funds to prohibit or penalize banks and other financial institutions for providing services to cannabis businesses that are legal under state law. Currently most legal cannabis businesses are cash-only, as banks have been unwilling to work with them under fear of the federal government getting involved.
“Current federal policy all but ensures marijuana businesses operate on a cash-only basis, which raises safety concerns for their employees and the surrounding communities,” says Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This measure should ease financial institutions’ concerns about opening accounts for these state-legal businesses.”
The bill now heads towards a vote in the full Senate, where its passage will send it to the House of Representatives for consideration.