The challenge of banking in the era of legalized marijuana

The challenge of banking in the era of legalized marijuana


In an era of legalized marijuana providing banking services for the growing businesses of recreational pot can be tricky, if not illegal, for local banks.

As part of a lengthy interview, Bruce Jay, president of Bakersfield’s Valley Republic Bank, outlined some of those challenged during a segment on the March 7 “The Richard Beene Show.”

“We are governed by federal regulations and cannabis is still federally illegal,” Jay said. “It doesn’t matter what’s happening at the state level we cannot by law bank any organization affiliated with marijuana.”

California, of course, joined Washington, Colorado , Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Oregon as legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana use. An additional 22 states have laws regulating the medicinal use of the drug.

However, marijuana use runs afoul of federal law and new Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been a vocal critic of marijuana use.

“States, they can pass the laws they choose,” Sessions said in a Huffington Post article last month.. “I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

Jay said the problem between the banks and the burgeoning industry has deep ramifications, and not always good.

“It’s a catastrophe in the making, quite frankly,” said Jay, adding the banking industry is pleading with state and federal officials to come up with some solution.

The second part of the interview where Jay discusses the growth of Valley Republic Bank will be posted on Wednesday, but here’s a Facebook video from today’s segment:

 

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