LOS ANGELES — The fate of a bill that would allow state-chartered banks and credit unions to provide services to California’s marijuana businesses could be determined Thursday when a key hearing is held on the legislation.
The proposed legislation, state Senate Bill 51, is designed to help pot retailers and other marijuana firms that have been shut out from the traditional banking system. The measure would allow private banks or credit unions to apply for a limited-purpose state charter so they can provide depository services to licensed cannabis businesses.
On Monday, the state Senate Appropriations Committee sent SB 51 to the so-called suspense file, a common procedure for state bills with a fiscal impact. However, the action also sets the stage for a hearing Thursday when committee members could determine the fate of the proposed measure.
A state cannabis panel last year issued a report on cannabis banking and stated that “large amounts of cash make cannabis businesses, their employees, and their customers targets of violent crime.” It also said “banking relationships can help law enforcement officials and regulators distinguish legal cannabis businesses from illegal market operators.”
“As policymakers, we have a duty to further the will of the voters while protecting the public safety of our constituents,” California Senate Majority Leader Robert Hertzberg said last month when introducing SB 51. “This measure is by no means the ultimate solution, but it’s just one small step in the right direction to get some of this money off the streets and into bank accounts.”
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