12 August 2016
The Statesman Journal Reports..
The National Conference of State Legislatures on Wednesday passed a resolution urging Congress to enact laws that give legal marijuana businesses access to financial services.
The resolution, passed at the organization’s annual conference, was spearheaded by a bipartisan group of Oregon legislators: Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, and Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego.
“As more states continue to legalize either medical or adult use cannabis, it is imperative that we allow legal cannabis businesses to access the banking system,” Burdick said in a written statement.
Ferrioli, in a statement, added that the all-cash nature of the legal cannabis industry is an invitation for crime.
In 2015, the Statesman Journal reported on the difficulties of securing financial services for legal marijuana businesses in Oregon.
Many businesses operate on a cash-only basis, and so-called “potrepreneurs” lug duffel bags of money to the Department of Revenue building to pay their quarterly taxes.
Most banks won’t serve legal cannabis businesses, fearing federal officials will seek to enforce laws that combat money laundering, despite assurances to the contrary from the U.S. Treasury and Department of Justice.
Only one financial institution in Oregon, a credit union in Salem, admitted that it serves marijuana businesses — but does so in secret and requires clients to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Members of Oregon’s congressional delegation have also called for reforms. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, both Democrats, have introduced reform legislation which has not advanced in the Republican-led Congress.
In June, the lawmakers appeared on video with the owner of a legal cannabis business, who was delivering a tax payment to state offices in Salem — in the form of $70,000 stuffed into a backpack.