Political Push To Get Banks Into Marijuana Business

Aug 9, 2016

Most banks refuse to do transactions with marijuana businesses, because it's still illegal under federal law. Washington's 10th District Congressman Denny Heck is pushing legislation to change that. He'll meet with industry reps and law enforcement Tuesday to talk about the proposal.

Cash is king at Washington's pot shops, even though the drug is legal here. That cash on hand invites crime. Just this past weekend, robbers went after cash and marijuana products at Have A Heart, a pot shop in Seattle.

Thankfully, manager Damon Martinez was watching the security cameras from home and called police when he saw the suspects tying up employees.

"I think the two gentlemen thought they had all the time in the world. They were moving pretty slow, they were being pretty methodical in how to pack up the things," Damon said, "But you know, the police were outside within about five minutes."

No one was hurt in the incident. But it renewed concerns in the industry.

Only a handful of small banks and credit unions will work with marijuana businesses. Representative Denny Heck is pushing a federal bill to encourage big banks to work with the cannabis industry.

The bill would provide a safe harbor to banks, protecting them from punishment if they work with legitimate marijuana businesses.

Heck is waiting for a committee hearing. His office says now is the time to pass the legislation - five more states will vote on whether to legalize marijuana in November.

Copyright 2016 KUOW