Two weeks ago we wrote about the current state of banking marijuana related businesses (MRBs). In that article we quoted an executive of Fourth Corner Bank as saying “[i]n 2016, $1.2 billion in cash will be transacted by the cannabis industry in Colorado. That’s all in $20 bills. At some point somebody will die. Then we will be allowed to bank.” We were wrong, and tragically, somebody has died.
On the day of our post, a number of publications reported that the Rules Committee of the United States House of Representatives blocked a vote on an amendment to a 2017 appropriations bill that would have prevented federal regulators from imposing penalties on banks and other financial institutions that took on MRBs as customers. A similar amendment cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 16-14. Two of these stories may be found here and here.
The House rejection of the amendment followed a shooting at an Aurora, Colorado dispensary in which a security guard was killed in an armed robbery. Representative Ed Perlmutter, one of the sponsors of the bill, was quoted as saying, “I’m appalled at House Republican leadership for denying the opportunity for a vote on the marijuana banking amendment which gets cash off the streets and prevents future crime in our communities. How many more armed robberies must we witness and security guards’ lives lost before we take action?”
Perhaps the House Republican leadership believes that, like climate change, if you ignore the dangers of a multi-billion dollar industry operating in all cash, the problem doesn’t exist.