Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Press Release: House Votes to Allow Banks to Do Business with State-Legal Marijuana Businesses

July 16, 2014
Contact: Darby Beck: 415.823.5496


Bill Amendment Would Remove Treasury Funding for Penalties of State-Legal Businesses

WASHINGTON DC—Today the US House of Representatives voted 231-192 to pass a bipartisan bill amendment introduced by Representatives Denny Heck (D-WA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that would prevent the Treasury Department from using federal funds to penalize banks and other financial institutions providing services to state-legal marijuana businesses.

Banking has been a major sticking point for marijuana businesses trying to operate legally, since though the Treasury Department issued banks guidelines on how to properly report transactions with marijuana businesses in February, many financial institutions feared they might be charged with money laundering if they worked with businesses dealing with a substance still illegal under federal law. As a result, many marijuana businesses were forced to conduct transactions in cash, creating huge logistical and public safety issues.    

“Though this isn’t as flashy a win as some other drug policy reforms of recent years, banking regulations have been one of the most significant obstacles to creating a well-run legal marketplace,” said Law Enforcement Against Prohibition’s executive director Major Neill Franklin (Ret.). “This is a huge victory for those who care about the smart regulation and control of marijuana.”

For supporters, the vote was an echo of a similar bill amendment that passed the House in May eliminating funding for DEA raids on state-licensed medical marijuana businesses and patients. That amendment passed 219-189 in another bipartisan vote.

“What we’re seeing is not just that one of the most gridlocked Congresses in history is able to pass marijuana reforms, we’re seeing that both Democrats and Republicans think of these reforms as smart, politically viable options to a failed drug war,” added Franklin.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is a group of law enforcement officials who, after fighting in the front lines of the war on drugs, now advocate for its end.

For interviews, please contact Darby Beck at (415.823.5496).


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