Congress Considers Easing Access to Banks for Legal Marijuana Businesses

End threats to financial institutions


DENVER—Congress members from Colorado and Washington are planning to try again to help marijuana business access banking services.

A bill to be introduced Wednesday revives an effort to shield financial institutions from prosecution if they allow marijuana businesses to access any banking services. Financial institutions now violate federal drug law if they allow marijuana banking, leaving the industry running on mostly cash in the states that allow marijuana. The pot banking bill would allow businesses to make deposits, apply for loans and accept credit cards.

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  1. The US Constitution reserves the authority to prohibit or legalize any drug to the states. Both the 10th and 21st amendments agree on this. The federal government lacks the authority. While federal supremacy generally causes federal statutes to override state statutes or even state constitutions, federal supremacy CANNOT make a federal statute override the federal constitution!

    The feds have EXACTLY the same amount of federal supremacy now in 2013 that they did in 1918…and they had to amend the constitution to prohibit alcohol and make it stick.

    When states passed medical marijuana laws, the Controlled Substances Act lost its constitutional foundation. Within states that have marijuana prescriptions, possessing marijuana is legally no different than possession of 800 mg ibuprofen tablets — illegal without a prescription, legal with one.

    When states went further, as Colorado and Washington did, legalized marijuana, the CSA lost even more constitutional basis.

    If the federal government were to enact a banking regulation that prohibited banks from doing business with licensed brewery operators, it would, rightly, be seen as an illegal discrimination against a lawful business. Rules making it a crime to do business with a legal marijuana dispensary or licensed grower is, likewise, discrimination.

    The government (city, county, state, federal, whatever) simply isn’t allowed to step outside of the law and punish people who have not broken any laws.

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