California Is Pondering a New Kind of Bank

A marijuana consultant helps a customer at a San Diego dispensary on January 1, the day pot became legal in California.Brian Cahn via ZUMA

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States can legalize marijuana all they want, but it’s still a federally prohibited Schedule I drug. This presents legal marijuana dealers with a problem: where do they keep their money? Banks are under federal supervision, and few of them want to take the chance of knowingly accepting drug money that might later get them in trouble with the feds. California, as always a bellwether for the nation, thinks it might have an answer:

California’s treasurer and attorney general will study whether the state should create its own publicly owned bank to serve the state’s now-legal cannabis industry….There are numerous obstacles to creating such an institution, especially if the plan is for the bank to openly work with cannabis companies.

….[John] Chiang and other public officials have said the lack of banking access for cannabis companies, which has left the industry largely reliant on cash, poses public safety risks and makes it more difficult for the state and local agencies to monitor the industry and ensure businesses are paying their taxes.

A pot bank! I am hereby opening the floor to proposed names for our new bank.

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If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

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