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Jul-10-2013 14:24printcomments

Representative Perlmutter Introduces Bill to Address Banking Crisis for State-Legal Marijuana Industry

Bipartisan measure would allow marijuana businesses access to basic banking services such as checking accounts.

Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
Courtesy: perlmutterforcolorado.com

(WASHINGTON DC) - This morning, Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the “Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2013,” legislation addressing the growing banking crisis for regulated, state-legal marijuana businesses which are frequently unable to access even the most basic of banking services such as business checking accounts or merchant services.

Jaime Lewis, board member of the National Cannabis Industry Association and owner of two Denver-based medical marijuana companies, illustrates the challenges for these small business owners, saying “Each year, my companies contribute to the five million dollars in tax revenue Colorado collects from the sales of medical marijuana. Just like any other small business, we submit payroll taxes and unemployment insurance for our staffers. Making those tax payment is unnecessarily challenging because we do not have access to banking services other local businesses take for granted. Regulators, business owners, and medical marijuana patients alike all deserve the accountability, safety, and efficiency offered by this legislation.”

The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act addresses the multiple concerns cited by financial institutions when denying or revoking the accounts of marijuana businesses and marijuana business owners. Specifically, the Act disallows Federal regulators from punishing or penalizing a bank or its employees because it provides services marijuana-related businesses, exempts depository institutions from persecution and forfeiture simply for providing services to a marijuana-related business, and exempts marijuana-related business accounts from disclosure reporting requirements intended to identify individuals engaging in federally illegal activities.

"This bipartisan legislation is a clear and uncontroversial solution to serious problem facing business owners, state regulators, and tax collectors,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. "The growing cannabis industry already represents nearly $2 billion in annual revenue and thousands of jobs across the country. Providing much-needed clarification to financial institutions will not only make it easier for our industry to continue paying the hundreds of millions in taxes and governmental licensing fees we pay each year, it will protect public safety by ensuring the industry isn't forced into a cash economy. This is not about whether marijuana should or shouldn't be legal -- it simply addresses the existing crisis that puts the lives of business owners at risk. This conflict between state and federal laws must be resolved before a true tragedy occurs."

Source: The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) - the only national trade association working to advance the interests of cannabis-related businesses in the US.

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