Legalize marijuana banking and credit cards, Menendez says
Legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., would remove the fear of federal retaliation for banks that do normal business transactions with legal marijuana businesses.
It is called the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019.
Scott Rudder, of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, says the industry would then be able to deal with customers more normally, including using credit cards.
"When it comes to the patient, you always have to use cash, which always means that the dispensary operators have to store their cash. They have security systems, they have safes, but they have to transfer that to the banks where they conduct their business," he explained.
New Jersey has medical marijuana but has not legalized recreational marijuana, although lawmakers have been negotiating a deal that would get the approval of Gov. Phil Murphy, who campaigned in support of legalization.
Menendez's legislation would loosen federal reins on banking and insurance and allow them to transact with the legal cannabis industry.
"Medical marijuana businesses, for example, would be able to transact with credit cards and therefore would not have to keep such large cash sums on site," Rudder said.
"It's important for normalizing this as an industry setting a proper regulations and transparency in this process."
Menendez' legislation would also prevent federal regulators from taking any action on a loan to a legal cannabis business.
Rudder also believes the political climate is right for this in Washington.
"Anything that is bipartisan in Washington or in Trenton is going to have the best chance of getting it done," he said, pointing out that it has the support of Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and that the bill was approved by the House Finance Committee 45 to 15.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5