This week for the first time, the U.S. House of Representatives will have a hearing on a proposed law that might help licensed cannabis companies get easier access to banks, according to National Public Radio and various news outlets.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the new chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee said the issue is serious and cannabis growers and retailers need some place to bank their money.
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants to keep a lid on federal cannabis legalization because he says pot is “hemp’s illicit cousin.” Ironically, a great deal of hemp is being grown in former tobacco fields in Kentucky.
Even though similar federal measures have been proposed since states began legalizing recreational marijuana for recreational use six years ago, this would be the first time one of the bills didn’t just die before a hearing in the formerly Republican-controlled House.
As most cannabis industry members know, the nation’s federally controlled banks have problems with taking in deposits from pot-related enterprises. However, when a tax time comes, county officials in California rake in millions of dollars in cash from legal growers and sellers.
Marijuana is still a federally illegal drug. Banks that deal in the pot industry could be accused of money laundering, if the Feds prosecute them. Many banks decided against getting involved because of that possibility.
The proposed legislation reportedly would prevent bank regulators from prohibiting, penalizing or even discouraging depository institutions from working with legal cannabis-related companies.
The measure would make bank workers exempt from prosecution or investigation if they are only providing services to marijuana-related state-licensed businesses. Some lawmakers agree that ridding the risk of prosecution simply for banking an industry that is legal is a big step ahead.
Sometimes cannabis retailers and growers have to make appointments several weeks in advance to drop off piles of $100 bills at a couple dozen tax offices around the Golden State that will take them. No reports of this happening in Santa Barbara County have been made … yet.
This really doesn’t make anyone too happy since carrying cash creates dangers and makes government use tax dollars to buy more counting machines.
Cannabis company workers as well as government workers fret that hauling around large cash bonanzas will put a target on their backs for thieves.
California collected some $228 million in tax revenue from the cannabis operations in the first three quarters of 2018. About half that sum reportedly was cash.
When someone tries to deliver more than $20,000 cash, more strict regulations are imposed about how that will be done.
The North Coast Journal in Humbolt County reported some $5 million in marijuana-related taxes collected there came in cash.