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Congress debates easing risk burden for banks as pot businesses grow

Joe Mont | February 19, 2019

Momentum has been on the side of marijuana legalization for some time now, with 33 states and the District of Columbia having legalized cannabis in some form. Now, there may be progress in allowing banks to legally take part in that ever-expanding retail revolution.

A recent hearing convened by the House Financial Services Committee, tied to newly proposed legislation, “The Secure And Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019,” tackled the disconnect between state and federal laws and regulations. The dilemma: Even as states legalize pot sales, marijuana remains illegal under federal law and, as such, financial institutions are refraining from offering banking services to businesses in the space based on legal and compliance risks.

According to a recent American Bankers Association survey, “an overwhelming number of banks (99 percent) want Congress...

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