"Recently, a bank in Ohio was forced to turn down a loan to a fencing company hired to build a fence around a marijuana growing facility. A bank in Washington had to close an account when a law firm took on a marijuana business as a client. If either of these banks looked the other way, they risked violating federal law and facing criminal prosecution. These examples are not isolated. The survey found that 75 percent of banks have had to close an account, terminate a client relationship or turn away a customer because there was some connection to cannabis.
Reconciling the legal divide between state and federal laws would bring benefits to the communities banks serve. The estimated $24 billion in cannabis sales by 2025 in states where marijuana has been legalized could be deposited safely with federally regulated financial institutions, enhancing transparency, public safety and tax revenue. New bipartisan legislation introduced in the House marks an important first step toward bringing cannabis businesses into the mainstream financial sector. The bill and the hearing this month are encouraging, and Congress can craft a law that can achieve the legal certainty that states and businesses need."
Washington had a turning point in the national debate over banking and cannabis this month. For the first time, Congress held a hearing on the issue, with lawmakers and witnesses outlining the harm resulting from the growing gap between state and federal laws. The House financial services hearing was welcome but overdue. Today, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis in some form, and more states are now moving to join that club. At the federal level, however, marijuana remains illegal, putting banks in an impossible situation only Congress can resolve.