News Releases

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Patty Murray (D-WA) successfully offered an amendment that would help legal marijuana business access banking services without fear of federal prosecution. The Merkley-Murray amendment was offered during the full committee markup of the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, and is nearly identical to S. 1726, the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act.

 

“The federal government should not be forcing Oregon’s legal marijuana businesses here in Oregon to carry gym bags full of cash to operate their business,” said Senator Merkley. “This is an invitation to robberies, money laundering, and organized crime. We need to enable our banks to serve these legal businesses without fearing devastating reprisals from the federal government.”

 

“What I’m hearing from banks, credit unions, and small business owners in my state is that they need clarity and security in order to expand and succeed. This legislation would go a long way toward making that a reality,” said Senator Murray. “I’m proud to be a voice for Washington state and to fight for legislation that creates safer conditions for small, legal businesses to participate in the economy.” 

 

Background:

Currently, marijuana businesses operating under state laws that have legalized medicinal or recreational marijuana have been mostly denied access to the banking system because depository institutions that provide them services can be prosecuted under federal law. Without the ability to access bank accounts, accept credit cards, or write checks, businesses must operate using large amounts of cash. This creates safety risks for businesses and surrounding communities, and makes it more difficult for local and state governments to collect taxes.