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Hickenlooper: Law preventing cannabis business banking ‘a recipe for disaster’

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Wednesday that federal law prohibiting cash-only cannabis businesses from using banks must be changed.

Despite recreational marijuana being legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, it is still classified as a Schedule I narcotic under federal law. Banks that provide services to cannabis companies — even in states where they operate legally — can face federal charges, which forces cannabis growers, distributors and retailers to perform all transactions in cash.

“If you really wanted to create an industry that’s dependent on gangs and cartels, make it all cash. It’s almost like the system that is there now is oriented towards promoting things that we don’t want,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), speaking at The Hill’s Regulating Cannabis event.

Hickenlooper, who was governor of Colorado in 2012 when voters legalized marijuana statewide, has long advocated for decriminalizing cannabis. He called the cash-only system “a recipe for disaster” and a “blueprint for catastrophe.”

“If you de-schedule it, banks can start banking it so it’s no longer a cash business. There are multiple negative consequences of having it be a cash business. One is that businesses themselves can’t get loans.” Hickenlooper told The Hill’s Steve Clemons. [Read more at The Hill]

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