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Banking officials trying to do business with marijuana companies

Posted: 11:32 AM, Sep 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-03 12:33:33-04

Louisiana’s top banking regulator and 12 others are asking Congress to clear the way for banks to do business with the marijuana industry, our media partners at The Advocate report.

For years the industry has struggled to find financial institutions willing to handle their cash and already one participant has backed out in Louisiana, the newspaper reports.

John Ducrest, commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions, was one of 13 state financial regulators signing on to a letter to congressional leaders in late August seeking “safe harbor” legislation for banks, the Advocate reports.

The coalition was led by Pennsylvania’s top financial official. The group urged lawmakers to remove “unnecessary risk” for banks doing business with the marijuana industry, which is now legal in some form in 31 states, Washington D.C., and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico, the newspaper reports.

Despite state actions, the drug remains illegal under federal law and is classified as a Schedule I narcotic. That fact has deterred most banks from doing business with the industry, the paper reports.

“I’m not taking a position on or for marijuana, but the banking system is where you want things to flow through,” Ducrest told the Advocate. “Very few (banks) are willing to do it because of the fear on the federal level.”

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