House Votes to Let Banks Handle Marijuana Money


Marijuana and money
aforero / Foter

One of the major barriers for newly legal recreational marijuana businesses in Colorado and Washington, and medical marijuana businesses elsewhere, has been lack of easy access to financial services. The businesses might be legal at the state level, as Jacob Sullum has noted, but federal regulators have left it very much up in the air as to whether banks can accept money openly connected to the marijuana trade.

Even more fun, the Internal Revenue Service then penalizes marijuana businesses for not paying taxes through an electronic system that requires access to a bank account.

Perhaps there's some relief in sight, though. The House of Representatives today told the Treasury Department to keep its hands off banks that take mariuana-related money.

Courtesy of the Drug Policy Alliance:

In a historic vote today the U.S. House passed a bipartisan amendment by Representatives Heck (D-WA), Perlmutter (D-CO), Lee (D-CA) and Rohrabacher (R-CA) preventing the Treasury Department from spending any funding to penalize financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The amendment passed 231 to 192.

In May, the House passed an amendment prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from undermining state medical marijuana laws and passed two amendments prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp laws.

That earlier measure, attempting to rein-in the DEA, may or may not live up to its billing. Its wording prevents federal narcs from interefering with state law, but the feds may deny they're doing anything of the sort even while kicking in doors and hauling people in for engaging in locally legal activities. Maybe they're just enforcing federal policy. Government officials just love those sorts of word games.

The House measure still must win Senate approval, too, which is not guaranteed. Still, the move is in line with shifting public opinion. Americans in general, and younger Americans in particular, increasingly support legalizing marijuana.

See Reason TV on the joys of trying to run a marijuana business legally:

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  1. This one is actually one of those liberal-libertarian alliance votes. But not every bipartisan vote in the House is such; some of them are statist moderate Republicans voting with Dems.

    The House actually votes on lots of things, including Dem majority supported amendment. The only part of Congress that restricts minority supported amendments is the Senate, under Harry Reid.

    1. Regardless of what the Senate does, unless this liberal-libertarian alliance can get somebody in conference to keep these pro-pot amendments in, they’ll likely die. You can bet your money that the leaderships of both parties in both chambers — who unfortunately get to choose the conference members — want these amendments to die.

      1. True, but actually, the Dem leadership– with the exception of Wasserman-Schultz, who is an idiot through and through, and Colin Peterson, the Ag chairman– is pretty good on this issue, as you can see from the rollcall.

        Harry Reid has been pretty anti-pot, though. And the Senate doesn’t do *anything*.

        Cory Booker and Rand Paul have the companion amendment in the Senate. Let’s see if it gets a vote.

        1. Peterson is a good old fashioned FDR Democrat.

      2. The other thing is removing the stupid Andy Harris amendment that got added in committee (but didn’t have a full vote in the House). Basically blocks DC decrim.

  2. …while kicking in doors and hauling people in for engaging in locally illegal activities.

    Don’t you mean locally legal activities?

  3. That earlier measure, attempting to rein-in the DEA, may or may not live up to its billing.

    When the Executive branch works aggressively to find loopholes in legislation, instead of generally attempting to at least stay in line with the spirit of the legislation, then … WTF?

    This is why the Light Legislation = Dysfunctional DC is such bullshit. No, it’s dysfunctional because by the fucking Executive branch gives fuck-all regards to the Legislative branch.

    1. The Senate is dysfunctional. Right now, Harry Reid won’t give the minority party *any* amendments (and won’t give his majority members amendments on things that might get more GOP support than Dem support.) Nobody gets amendments. In return, the Republican filibuster everything.

      It’s mostly because the Republicans have a few wedge issues that they know are popular, and would like to force members running for re-election to take a stand on.

      1. Which is dumb, because the Repubs can easily run an ad that says “Dem Senator X refused to support legislation Y, and so it died in the Senate”. Factually accurate enough for a campaign (unless Dem Senator X is on the record supporting legislation Y), and it substitutes for “Dem Senator X voted against legislation Y.”

        Naturally, the odds that the geniuses in the Repub party will stumble upon this are probably less than 50/50.

        1. The idea is too intelligent for Republicans.

          1. (Being dumb doesn’t hurt Dems since they are simply appealing to their natural constituents)

  4. Sounds like a trap to me.

  5. Tipping point.

    Full marijuana legalization within 10 years. Or earlier. Calling it again.

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