Bank Regulation

Sessions Facing Pushback For Strict Pot Laws By Banking Industry

Attorney Jeff Sessions’ strict stance on marijuana companies is facing pushback from the nation’s banks, which are stepping up their lobbying efforts to get more lenient plans.

With support from both President Donald Trump and Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren, Politico reported that the leading banking industry associations are urging lawmakers to make it easier for banks to serve pot companies in states where cannabis is legal, including California and Colorado.

The report noted that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell supports the initiative, saying at a press conference last week that while it’s a “difficult area,” it would be “great if that could be clarified.”

Seeing the opportunity for big business in serving the pot industry, lenders are backing legislation that would address the federal ban on the sale of marijuana that has prevented banks from getting into the market for fear of running afoul of laws. With Sessions publicly going after the legalized pot industry, trade groups have been increasing their lobbying efforts.

Politico pointed to the American Bankers Association (ABA), which said it thinks “the time has come for Congress and the regulatory agencies to provide greater legal clarity to the banks operating in states where marijuana has been legalized for medical or adult use,” a spokesman said. The ABA, which has thousands of large and small banks as members, added that banks that have no interest in dealing directly with pot companies are facing increased regulatory risk and uncertainty as the marijuana industry increases.

Meanwhile, the Independent Community Bankers Association of America (ICBA), which represents small lenders around the country, endorsed a pot banking bill that would prevent the federal government from penalizing banks that provide services to the pot industry. The bill, presented by Democrat Reps. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado and Denny Heck of Washington, has the backing of 90 lawmakers, including 13 Republicans.

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