It's unrealistic to expect a quick change to federal banking laws regarding money made in the marijuana industry. That doesn't mean the effort should be abandoned.
Today some 29 states, including Washington, Oregon and California, allow the legal sale of recreational or medical marijuana, or both. It's largely a cash business, thanks to laws and regulations that keep banks, credit card providers and others in the financial industry from participating.
That's a problem, or a series of problems.
It puts pressure on marijuana shop owners who take cash from customers. It makes marijuana dispensaries and recreational shops targets for criminals. Banks worry about losing federal deposit insurance if they work with the pot industry.
It creates danger. It's dangerous for shop owners and employees who must somehow secure the cash. It's dangerous for police officers who may be called in to deal with criminals intent on grabbing the cash. And it can be dangerous for the general public, which runs the risk of being caught between police and criminals should robbery occur.
The federal government could change that. Congress could act to change the law so that banks could accept deposits of marijuana receipts without fear of losing their deposit insurance. So far bills in both houses of Congress that do just that have failed to get enough traction even to get out of committee.
That's probably to be expected. Only nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of recreational marijuana, and a powerhouse voting bloc they're not. Combined, they contain less than a quarter of U.S. population. Another seven states may deal with the subject this year.
In other words, American attitudes toward legal marijuana are shifting, and as they do more and more members of Congress come from states in which sale of some form of marijuana is legal. As the shift occurs, so, too, does the likelihood that changes to federal law will also occur. Supporters of the change should keep up the pressure. They may not succeed this year, but they need to keep trying.
— The Bend Bulletin