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House passes bill to give marijuana dispensaries access to banking services

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Marijuana is not legal at the federal level, forcing most dispensaries to operate in cash because banks and credit unions are currently prohibited from serving marijuana businesses.

Posted: Apr 21, 2021 9:48 AM
Updated: Apr 21, 2021 9:49 AM

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PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) -- Marijuana businesses around Oregon are hoping a bill working its way through Congress could change the industry's monetary operations.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act which was re-introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Congressman Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, would give marijuana dispensaries access to banking services instead of just operating in cash.

FOX 12 spoke with John Monteleone, the co-founder of Southwest Portland marijuana dispensary, Fidus PDX.

In August 2020, his shop was robbed at gunpoint.

"They held the other co-founder for about 17 minutes under duress until they were able to rob us," Monteleone said.

He says the shop lost $250,000 in cash and products.

Under this proposed legislation, it would hopefully make dispensaries less of a target.

"Had we had the right access to banking, I think our situation might not have happened," Monteleone said.

Marijuana is not legal at the federal level, forcing most dispensaries to operate in cash because banks and credit unions are currently prohibited from serving marijuana businesses.

"That piece is crucial to all of the success of our businesses, cause' it's not safe currently, so we definitely need that change," Monteleone said.

Monteleone is optimistic lawmakers will pass the proposed legislation into law.

"Treating us like a real business, giving us the ability to get and build businesses naturally like we're supposed to in this country, that'd be great," Monteleone said.

The bill passed the House Monday and now goes to the U.S. Senate for debate.

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