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McAdams pushes bill allowing banks to accept legal marijuana money

(Photo: Cheryl Diaz Meyer, for Deseret News)

WASHINGTON D.C. – Imagine banks losing their license over something that’s legal.  That’s a possibility for financial institutions that accept money made from medical marijuana sales.  One Utahn is supporting a bill that would change that.

The majority of states have allowed for some sort of medical marijuana, and some states have even allowed recreational pot use, also.

However, Fourth District Representative Ben McAdams says, “And, yet, at the federal level, it’s still illegal.”

Because of that, banks and credit unions all across the country are very hesitant to handle the revenue that dispensaries generate.  In fact, McAdams says there are only a few dozen financial institutions that will do it.

“There is a lot of risk on them for that.  They could be violating their banking charter.  They could lose their banking charter and be put out of business.  So, most banks are saying, ‘At this point, we’re not going to touch it,’” he says.

He says H.R. 1595 would create a “safe haven” for financial institutions to handle that money.  For now, medical marijuana is mostly a “cash industry.”

“You have people walking around with duffle bags full of cash and that puts them at risk,” McAdams says.

This can be extremely dangerous for those medical marijuana businesses.  Some of them have stacks of cash laying around since they have nowhere to take it.  That makes dispensaries an inviting target for criminals.

“If a cash business of that magnitude exists, it makes you worry about money laundering and tax evasion and what other activities that money might finance,” he adds.

McAdams says H.R. 1595 passed the House committee with bipartisan support, and will go to the full House for a vote.