Congress Just Made a Huge Decision That Will Benefit the Legal Marijuana Industry

The news: On Wednesday, Congress approved two amendments that will allow marijuana businesses to operate more like any ordinary business. This is a huge step for the legal marijuana movement, opening the door for current and future weed businesses to get financial services in the form of capital, loans, and safe deposits from large national banks. Legal marijuana businesses have battled to be recognized by these financial services. Now they'll be recognized like any other business.

The first of the two amendments says the federal government can't penalize banks handling marijuana money in legalized states. The second gives the go-ahead on a Treasury Department plan that allows for banks that store revenues from legal marijuana businesses.

This has been a huge issue for legal marijuana: Now banks in weed-legal states can accept money from weed businesses without the threat of the feds swooping in and seizing the money. Since pot is still federally illegal, banks feared that if they accepted money from marijuana businesses, they would be in breach of federal laws and thereby subject to prosecution.

As for the marijuana businesses themselves, they can finally operate like normal businesses and drop their revenues into a business account at the bank. Colorado previously attempted to remedy this problem within the state, but the measures were not enough to mollify banks fearing reprimand from the federal government. As a result, legal marijuana businesses that have been stacking their profits as actual, physical cash, can finally put all that loot in the bank, just like any normal business.

The problem of where to put legal weed money, and how to deal with banks that are accepting it, arose as a problem soon after legal sales in Colorado commenced. All this money started rolling in, but banks didn't want to touch it for fear that the federal government would hold them responsible. The Justice Department tried to implement a solution, as did the state, but neither was effective.

With these new measures, that can't happen. Legal weed businesses can go on selling, and states considering legalization have one less potential issue to worry about. Now that marijuana businesses can operate normally, they can focus on sales and become the massive economic boon that the state has projected them to be.

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Abdullah Saeed

Abdullah Saeed covers drug policy, focusing on newly forming cannabis legislation in the US. He is the author of VICE's "Weediquette" column as T. Kid. His work has appeared in High Times, Huffington Post, Paper, and Village Voice, among others.

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