Oregon Set to Become First State to Legalize Marijuana Business Banking

   

The Oregon House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 4094 that protects Oregon banks who provide financial services to state-regulated marijuana businesses. The bill initially passed the House on February 16, but it was amended in the Senate when it passed there 18-6 on February 26th, so today the House voted 55-4 to concur with the Senate Amendments.

The bill, championed by Oregon State Treasurer candidate Tobias Read, now moves onto Governor Kate Brown, who is expected to sign the bill, making Oregon the first state to remove all criminal penalties for banks and credit unions that work with cannabis businesses operating within state law. More work needs to be done at the federal level, but Oregon’s progress will only help the national debate.

Sam Chapman of New Economy Consulting, helped lead the lobbying effort for the bill, stated that, “HB 4094 provides ample breathing room for small banks and credit unions in Oregon to further examine how they can best provide services to the cannabis industry while also complying with the Cole Memo guidelines. I suspect the passage of HB 4094 will inspire other adult use and medical cannabis states to follow Oregon’s lead on solidifying banking reforms at the local level in the not too distant future.”

Oregon’s congressional delegation, led by Representative Earl Blumenauer and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, is leading the fight in Congress to pass a sensible banking bill that has bipartisan support. It only makes sense for the federal government to allow banking for marijuana businesses operating within state law. It is dangerous to force businesses to keep large amounts of cash on hand and it makes it easier to cheat tax burdens. Hopefully, the United States government will follow Oregon’s lead in allowing banks to provide financial services to state-regulated cannabis businesses, on the way to eventually ending marijuana prohibition altogether.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis le

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