Although medical marijuana has been legalized throughout California for nearly two decades, state banks and credit unions have remained unwilling to engage in business with businesses of the cannabis industry due to federal laws against marijuana.
State tax Board member Fiona Ma, who called a meeting last week at the State Board of Equalization offices to discuss the banking issues within the cannabis industry, believes that legal cannabis businesses should have the same access to banks that other organizations have,
“This industry has been living in the shadows for decades.”
Ma says that she would like to see cannabis businesses be able to make cash deposits and electronic transfers to the Tax Board through the creation of a state-run bank, which would be the first of its kind in the country.
At the moment, dispensaries must bring in cash to the State Board of Equalization, which is currently the only agency that accepts their business. Kimberly Cargile, CEO of “A Therapeutic Alternative” hopes to see this change,
“It’s very difficult to get a bank account for anyone in the cannabis industry. So the entire industry is a cash-based industry.”
Aside from the danger of a cash-only system of banking, Ma says that it is hurting the state by missing out on millions of dollars in sales tax,
“After studying this issue for the last six months, I really feel that the federal government is not moving or interested … so I really feel like California needs to step up.”
California will likely vote in 2016 to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, possibly joining states such as Colorado and Washington, who are currently facing the same problems with banking.