Because they can't legally use the banking system, marijuana businesses deal in cash. Many rely on armored car services like Blue Line Protection Group for cash transportation and protection. (Joe Mahoney, Rocky Mountain PBS I-News)

Editorial: Banking bill small sign of progress for pot industry

Though it won’t pass and become law this time around, a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate to legitimize banking for marijuana businesses is a step in the right direction.

Similar legislation last year in the House unfortunately failed to make the committee hearing calendar. But as more states legalize marijuana, the issue regarding banking needs to be addressed.

Legal marijuana is now a $3 billion industry and is growing.

“We shouldn’t be forced to carry that around in duffel bags,” said Aaron Smith of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

Pot is still illegal under federal law and banks reasonably fear prosecution for money laundering if they accept deposits from cannabis businesses.

This has made the industry a dangerous cash-only business, ripe for corruption and crime.

Thankfully, Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner are behind the legislation with other lawmakers from states where pot is legal. Even if the Senate bill advances, it would face huge opposition in the House.

Yet it is a good sign that a faction of Washington is working on resolving this issue.

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