New bill could let pot shops go to the bank - KPTV - FOX 12

New bill could let pot shops go to the bank

Posted: Updated: Jul 09, 2015 10:34 PM

Marijuana may be legal in Oregon, but selling it is still a federal crime and that keeps local pot business from using banks. That could all change if a new bill backed by Oregon’s senators gets approved.

Thursday, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced a new bill called the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act. It would give future recreational pot shops and dispensaries the option of using banks and taking credit cards.

Tyson Haworth, the owner of dispensary Oregon’s Finest, feels it's the safe and fair thing to do.

"I’ve definitely walked and made cash deposits and any time you're walking around with thousands of dollars in your pocket, it's an uneasy feeling,” he explained.

Like most medical marijuana dispensary owners, Haworth is operating an all-cash business. While he said it is not a big deal for customers, he claimed it makes his job inefficient and unsafe.

"Not being able to take credit cards, not being able to take checks," he described. "Imagine if you had to go pay all of your bills in cash every month how fun that would be to drive around everywhere."

Haworth is relieved to hear about the new bill announced on Capitol Hill Thursday. The bill would make it illegal for banks to deny service to cannabis businesses and stop federal regulators from penalizing those banks.

Currently most banks won't work with dispensaries, and Haworth knows that issue all too well.

"We have to regularly shut down accounts or be miscoded in the systems in order to accomplish the kind of banking that any other business would be able to do without discrimination,” he claimed.

Wyden and Merkley said current laws make legal, pot businesses sitting ducks for violent crime. The fact that his senators are going to bat for him gives Haworth hope.

"It will go through, it's just a matter of when," he said.

Haworth is part of a group from Oregon that actually went to Washington last month and talked with Sen. Wyden about this very issue.

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