Colorado lawmakers approved the world’s first financial system for the marijuana industry, a network of uninsured cooperatives designed to give pot businesses a way to access basic banking services.
The U.S. Treasury Department said in February that banks could serve the marijuana industry under certain conditions. With the industry emerging from the underground, states want to track marijuana sales and collect taxes. It’s a lot easier to do that when the businesses have bank accounts.
“This is our main problem: Financial Services for marijuana businesses,” said Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial. “We are trying to improvise and come up with something in Colorado to give marijuana business some opportunity, so they do not have to store large amounts of cash.”
The proposal calls for new “cannabis credit co-ops” – similar to credit unions without deposit insurance – to be governed by the state’s financial services commissioner. But they would need Fed approval for access to banking services, such as credit card processing and checking accounts.
The Colorado measure passed on Friday on a preliminary vote and will be formally voted on next week. It needs approval by the state Senate and Governor John Hickenlooper to become law.