Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is part of an effort to ensure legal marijuana businesses have access to banking services.
According to a report, the move to protect legal players in the pot business is part of a broader push by Sen. Warren and others to bring the $7 billion pot industry into the banking system. Currently, many pot shops can only accept cash, which makes them an attractive target for criminals. Sen. Warren’s move to join nine other senators in asking the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to issue more guidance to banks so they can provide services to pot shop vendors came after voters in her state approved the legalization of recreational pot use in November. To date, 28 states have legalized it for medicinal and/or recreational use.
“You make sure that people are really paying their taxes. You know that the money is not being diverted to some kind of criminal enterprise,” Sen. Warren said recently about the pot industry, according to the report. “And it’s just a plain old safety issue. You don’t want people walking in with guns and masks and saying, ‘Give me all your cash.’” A spokesman from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network told AP it is reviewing the letter.
While some efforts have been made for banks to accommodate the needs of the pot industry, Sen. Warren said less than 3 percent of the nation’s close to 12,000 federally regulated banks and credit unions are actively serving the marijuana industry.
“What the industry needs is a sustainable solution that services the entire industry instead of tinkering around the edges,” Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said, according to the report. “You don’t have to be fully in favor of legalized marijuana to know that it helps no one to force these businesses outside the banking system.”