SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Shut out of the traditional banking system by federal laws, the country’s largest legal marijuana market in California could benefit if the state approves a measure creating a special class of banks to handle pot money.
The state Senate voted 35-1 on Tuesday to pass a bill that would allow people to start banks and credit unions that could accept cash deposits from marijuana retailers.
Those banks could issue special checks to the retailers that could only be used for certain purposes, including paying taxes and California-based vendors.
State lawmakers also say such banks would make it easier for licensed pot retailers to pay their taxes, which fell far short of expectations in the first year after legalization.
“This is as close as we can get until the federal government changes its policy,” said Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Van Nuys Democrat and the author of the bill that now goes to the Assembly.
Marijuana has been legal in California since January 2018, but it’s still illegal under federal law