Cannabis Banking Bill Stalls in Committee

The creation of limited state-chartered banks to service California's all-cash marijuana industry appears to be out of the realm of possibility for the year.

Senate Bill 930, which would have allowed the state to license private banks to handle legal marijuana transactions, was shelved in the Assembly Appropriations Committee Thursday amid concerns about the plan’s risks and feasibility. The decision represents a major blow to the state’s cannabis industry which had hoped to see a solution to marijuana’s critical cash issues soon.

Lawmakers worried that the institutions SB 930 would create would still be subject to federal prosecution. A recent legislative analysis further warned the bill could lead to “the concentration of cannabis business assets into one or several easily identifiable institutions, making them an easier target of federal law enforcement action.”

The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles), expressed profound disappointment at the bill’s failure to advance.

“This is a serious public safety issue that deserves swift resolution," he said. “We’ve got barrels of cash buried all over the state, businesses being ransacked, and it’s clear that the federal government won’t act. It’s a shock to me that the state government may not act this year either.”

Legislators and marijuana industry professionals say they won’t allow the setback to deter them. Amy Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the California Cannabis Industry Assn, vowed to continue partnering with state lawmakers to find a swift solution to cannabis’ critical banking dilemma.


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