Push for marijuana banking

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– Marijuana dispensaries are one step closer to having more avenues to handle their cash flow.

The U.S. House passed the Safe Banking Act. State Treasurer Mike Frerichs is hoping the Senate will follow suit before recreational marijuana sales start in Illinois.

“If we are going to let these businesses conduct business, in the state of Illinois, they need to be a part of the banking system, not operating solely in cash,” said Frerichs.

The measure would ensure marijuana businesses have access to banking services. Frerichs said the lack of banking service access creates an unnecessary safety risk for the cash based industry.

“We have heard stories of legitimate businesses that had to take their payroll in cash. When you are taking a duffle bag full of cash and passing it out to individuals in the same day, that is inviting criminal activity. It is inviting criminals to come into the workplace and hold them up for cash, that really has to stop,” he said.

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, which means federal banks can’t take money from businesses that legally sell it.

“So many states that have passed laws that legalize cannabis but you still have the federal law that operates under a different premise,” said Chris McCloud, HCI Alternatives spokesman.

Illinois already passed legislation protecting banks who serve businesses in the marijuana industry. McCloud said banking is not as hard here because of these efforts protecting banks in the state but he believes having federal support would make a world of difference.

“I think a lot of folks in this industry are turning towards state regulated banks as opposed to federally regulated. But it has been a challenge and it does provide some difficulty, yes we have a banking partner but we still are not able to do somethings that almost every other legal industry is able to do,” said McCloud.

Supporters said the biggest battle facing them now is getting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call the bill for a vote. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 321 to 103. Congressmen Darin LaHood (R- Peoria) and John Shminkus (R-Collinsville) were the only members of the Illinois Delegation to vote against it.

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