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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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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