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Oregon & Colorado Senators Want Banks To Do Business With Marijuana Industry

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A number of states have legalized medical and recreational marijuana, but it remains illegal in the eyes – and the laws – of the federal government. Senators from Oregon and Colorado say it's nearly impossible for marijuana businesses to access banks, which follow federal regulations. New legislation aims to ease the banking restrictions.

Marijuana is big business and brings in a lot of cash – which most banks are unwilling to accept because they could be prosecuted under federal law. Hauling around bags of cash creates a public safety issue and perpetuates stereotypes by not treating legal marijuana businesses as legitimate. That's the sentiment from a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators, including Oregon's Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.

Sen. Wyden: "It is ridiculous to make any business owner to carry duffel bags of cash just to pay their taxes. Our bill will finally force the federal government to respect the decision Oregonians made at the polls and allow law-abiding marijuana businesses to go to the bank, just like any other business."

The senators introduced the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015. It would essentially take away the threat of prosecution for banks doing business with state-sanctioned and regulated marijuana companies. Banks would retain the right to refuse service.

Angela Kellner is the KLCC host of All Things Considered and a reporter. Angela began as a KLCC volunteer in 1991 when she was in high school. While a student at Lane Community College, she was hired in 1993 for a work-study position in the KLCC Music Department and has been with the station in some role since then. Angela hosted KLCC's world music program Tropical Beat for 11 years from 1994 to 2005 and continues to fill in on a monthly basis.
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