WASHINGTON: Efforts by Washington state legislators to create a state-owned bank that would cater to the newly legal marijuana industry won’t work in Colorado — or in Washington, for that matter — industry and legal experts say.
That’s because federal law is specific in its prohibition against commercial banks from accepting deposits they suspect are the profits of illegal activity. And the marijuana trade in federal legal terms is still illegal.
Nevertheless, Washington state Sen. Bob Hasegawa of Seattle is pressing forward with a proposal to create a state-owned bank, an effort he has pursued since 2010 as a state representative.
His push, though, is only of late to accommodate the legalized marijuana industry that voters approved in 2012, the same as in Colorado. It had been to handle state funds as a way of financing construction of public infrastructure at better interest rates.
Armed with the notion that marijuana funds — presumed to be a $2 billion annual industry there — could be used as the mechanism to pay for the projects, Hasegawa is pursuing the idea again.
It has met with some backing of business leaders, though the banking sector says it’s unlikely to pass and the state treasurer opposes it.