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Banks Should Take Steps to Cater to Marijuana Businesses - US Lawmakers

© Photo : Bob Pearson for SputnikDenver Relief patients can choose from a range of different marijuana strains with colorful names like “Ghost Train Haze.”
Denver Relief patients can choose from a range of different marijuana strains with colorful names like “Ghost Train Haze.” - Sputnik International
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Marijuana businesses in the United States should have access to banking services in order to avoid operating on a cash-only basis, which could lead to tax evasion and other crime, US Representative Ed Perlmutter stated in a press release.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Twenty-three US states and Washington, DC have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, while four US states have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Denver Relief patients can choose from a range of different marijuana strains with colorful names like “Ghost Train Haze.” - Sputnik International
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Current laws restrict licensed marijuana small businesses from accessing banking services. Financial institutions that provide services to legitimate marijuana businesses are subject to criminal prosecution for “aiding and abetting” a US federal crime and money laundering, the release read.

“We also need to provide financial institutions assurance that they can make their own business decisions related to legal, financial transactions without fear of regulatory penalties or criminal prosecution," Perlmutter said on Wednesday.

© AP Photo / Don RyanShane McKee, co-founder of Shango Premium Cannabis medical marijuana dispensary, pulls a sample from their display of cannabis flowers in Portland, Oregon.
Shane McKee, co-founder of Shango Premium Cannabis medical marijuana dispensary, pulls a sample from their display of cannabis flowers in Portland, Oregon. - Sputnik International
Shane McKee, co-founder of Shango Premium Cannabis medical marijuana dispensary, pulls a sample from their display of cannabis flowers in Portland, Oregon.

“It is estimated that 40 percent of the marijuana-related businesses in Colorado are unbanked. This means hundreds of millions of dollars in cash are moving around the streets of Colorado,” he added.

US Representative Denny Heck and 16 bipartisan lawmakers supported the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, to allow the federal government to keep an eye on business practices, according to the release.

“Forcing businesses into cash-only territory is a dangerous step away from legitimacy, transparency, and regulation and a huge step towards crime, tax evasion and access to minors,” Heck said.

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