Colorado Rep. Perlmutter voices optimism for bill’s chances after years of attempts

A proposal to open banking and financial services to marijuana businesses in states that have legalized marijuana got its first-ever hearing in a U.S. House committee Wednesday, making Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter optimistic about its chances.

“We’ve been introducing a version of this bill for almost six years, since Colorado by initiative legalized recreational marijuana,” Perlmutter, a prime sponsor of the proposal, said in a call with reporters.

But the bill failed to get a hearing when the House was controlled by the Republican Party.

Perlmutter and his fellow Democrat and co-sponsor, Rep. Denny Heck of Washington, said the measure has the support of Republican Reps. Warren Davidson of Ohio and Steve Stivers, both of Ohio. The draft bill would allow banks and other financial institutions to serve marijuana businesses in states where the businesses are legal. Federal banking regulators couldn’t discourage, prohibit or penalize the banks for serving legitimate marijuana businesses.

Now, because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, dispensary owners and employees are forced to conduct most of their business in cash. That has made the businesses targets of crime and violence, Perlmutter said. [Read More @ Denver Post]