Congress Again Denies Banking Services to Medical Marijuana Businesses

The House Committee on Rules has blocked an amendment to the appropriations bill aimed at protecting banks that service the legal cannabis industry.

The U.S. House of Representatives appeared likely to approve an amendment to the House Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill that would prevent financial institutions from being penalized for providing services to state-sanctioned cannabis businesses. However, the amendment was blocked before it could be brought before the House for a vote. A similar amendment has made it out of committee in the Senate and is awaiting approval.

Under new procedural rules, all amendments to appropriations bills must be approved by the House Committee on Rules, which decided not to consider the amendment for a vote, effectively blocking its progress.

Representatives Denny Heck (D-WA) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) who submitted the amendment emphasised the risks cannabis businesses face without access to basic banking services, like depositing revenues and storing operational funds, increasing the risk of theft and violence in a largely cash based industry.

Perlmutter noted that the much needed amendment was blocked just days after a security guard, Travis Mason, a Marine veteran and father of twin girls, was killed in a robbery of a marijuana dispensary in Aurora.

“I’m appalled at House Republican leadership for denying the opportunity for a vote on the marijuana banking amendment which gets cash off the streets and prevents future crime in our communities,” he said. “How many more armed robberies must we witness and security guards lives lost before we take action?”

This stalled amendment is just the latest in a series of failed attempts by some lawmakers to pass responsible banking reform for the cannabis industry. Heck and Perlmutter famously wrote the failed Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2015, which would have been a comprehensive change for the way the cannabis industry accesses banking services. While federal law still prohibits all cannabis activity, both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network have provided guidance on providing services to the cannabis industry. However, banks have largely been reluctant to rely on such guidance in the face of federal restrictions.

Despite the fact that this amendment has been blocked in committee, there are a number of other attempts at reforming federal cannabis laws that may offer clarity to banks interested in offering services to the marijuana industry. All are still in the works, however, and although some believe cannabis reform to be inevitable, it is little consolation to those left searching for a solution for where to safely store their funds.

Medical Marijuana, Inc. started MPS International for just that issue. Created in 2014, MPSI was designed to be an all-in-one security solution for a range of cannabis businesses. Offering services like revenue and inventory transportation, armed and unarmed security staffing, and video surveillance, MPSI helps the cannabis industry remain compliant while creating a safe atmosphere for employees and customers alike.

Due to the current banking restriction for cannabis companies and the existence of the cannabis industry as a primarily cash business, MPSI works with clients to manage their cash on hand securely and responsibly.

To learn more about MPSI services, visit their company page.