Senate Committee Passes Cannabis Banking Amendment: Why Did California Senator Dianne Feinstein Vote No?


I want to sincerely thank Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley for leading the way on bipartisan, common amendment that allows banking access to state-regulated cannabis businesses. Senator Merkley understands the dangers that the banking prohibition has on businesses. Not only does large amount of cash present an enticing opportunity for thieves, but also provides ample opportunity for money laundering and tax evasion.

From Tom Angell over at

The measure is now attached to the Fiscal Year 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which heads to the Senate floor.

In a brief debate ahead of the vote, amendment sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said that not allowing marijuana businesses to store their profits in banks is a public safety threat.

“It makes no sense to have bags of cash, and it’s an invitation to organized crime, an invitation to theft, and invitation to tax evasion,” he said.

Allowing banking services to businesses operating legally under state law should be a no-brainer.  Three Republicans joined 13 Democrats, as the banking amendment passed the committee vote by a narrow 16-14 margin. One big question: Why did California Senator Dianne Feinstein vote “No” along with 13 Republicans?

Cannabis commerce already generates more than a billion dollars in sales annually in the Golden State, and that is only medical. If legalization passes this November, then California cannabis commerce will dwarf the sales of other states.

I hope that Democratic primary voters choose a candidate that better represents Californians. Denying banking access to cannabis businesses is a harmful and dangerous policy and Senator Feinstein should be held accountable.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.