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Polis administration seeks to increase banking access for cannabis companies

By Derek Draplin | The Center Square

Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ administration Monday announced a plan to help the cannabis industry have access to financial service institutions in the state.

The plan is intended to increase the number of financial service institutions that do business with state-licensed cannabis businesses, state officials said. Many state-chartered financial service providers do not offer the cannabis industry services because of federal regulations and fear of facing federal prosecution.

That’s led the cannabis industry in the state to mostly operate with cash instead of using banking services like most other businesses.

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“Colorado has been a leader in regulating cannabis and this is another step in the right direction towards doing this the right way, in this case for money to be out of the shadows and out of the cash market and into our conventional financial services sector,” Polis said at a press conference Monday.

The plan says it’s goal is to increase the number of financial service providers offering service to the cannabis industry by 20 percent by June.

Polis was flanked by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado, who sponsored federal legislation approved by the U.S. House that would create protections for financial institutions that do business with the cannabis industry. That legislation is waiting to be taken up by the U.S. Senate. 

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Perlmutter said the industry is exposed to more crime such as robberies since it doesn’t have access to traditional banking means, something he called “a real public safety issue.”

The roadmap says it will create a “working group” of state regulators to meet regularly with the intent of creating regulatory certainty for the financial services industry.

The Denver Business Journal reported last week that the Colorado State Banking Board approved plans for an Oklahoma-based bank that does business with the cannabis industry to open a location in Colorado.