Shielding Banks for Handling Cannabis-Related Accounts

Lawmakers in Olympia are working to shield financial institutions from state legal problems if they handle marijuana-related accounts.  Dan Frizzell from  the Washington State House Democratic Caucus has more.

Like it or not, legal cannabis is a thriving industry in Washington state, but it has some challenges not faced by, for example, the dry cleaner down the street.  One big one is that, because it’s still against federal laws, banks and credit unions are leery about doing business with them.  That makes it an all-cash enterprise, which invites everything from armed robbery to tax evasion to money laundering.  State Representative David Sawyer, the Parkland Democrat who chairs the House Commerce Committee in Olympia, wants to make things safer.  He’s sponsoring a law to assure financial institutions that they won’t have to fear state prosecution if they work with legally licensed pot shops.

SAWYER: “We are very grateful to our credit unions and at least one community bank who have started taking cash out of our marijuana system in this state. We can’t change federal law, but we can change our own criminal statutes and we’d like to make sure that we’re preventing a cash business from any sort of laundering. We want to make sure people do have a bank in our state.” [:16]

Sawyer’s bill got a big bipartisan thumbs-up in the House Wednesday and now moves to the Senate. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.