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 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.