A prominent U.S. Congressman is suggesting that House Republicans who last week nixed a budget amendment meant to give legal cannabis businesses access to banking get a tattoo that reads “Travis Mason” — the name of the security guard murdered earlier this month during an attempted robbery of a Colorado pot shop.
Mason’s death has members of the marijuana industry reeling and nervous about their own safety. Aurora police investigators on Monday released surveillance images of the men suspected of shooting and killing Mason, who are still at large.
Background on marijuana banking
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Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Senate recently passed an amendment that would allow banks to do business with cannabis companies without fear of government retaliation — before their Republican counterparts in the House stalled on a similar amendment.
While some marijuana businesses have quiet relationships with banks, most financial institutions don’t publicly work with cannabis companies because the drug is still federally illegal. Many weed businesses still operate solely in cash, making them target-rich environments for criminals.
And that’s why Representative Denny Heck of Washington is now saying that his House colleagues who voted down the marijuana banking amendment should get Mason’s name tattooed on their bodies. As National Journal reports (the full story is only available to members), when Heck was asked why he supported the proposal, he said, “Travis Mason.”
“Travis Mason,” the congressman repeated. “Every single member who opposed allowing this amendment ought to have that young man’s name tattooed on their body to remind them.”
The story adds that the House amendment wouldn’t have been an outright green light to the financial industry:
But even Heck acknowledges that the bill wouldn’t do enough to assuage the banking industry. In a written statement, James Ballentine, a top official at the American Bankers Association, said that encouragement and guidance “isn’t enough,” adding that Congress must change a number of laws before banks would feel “comfortable” banking marijuana businesses.
“Financial institutions face significant risk for violating federal law if they offer banking services to marijuana-related businesses,” Ballentine wrote. “The federal statutory barriers include the Controlled Substance Act, USA Patriot Act, Bank Secrecy Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and other federal statutes.”
“Encouragement is great, but possession and distribution of marijuana is still illegal under federal law,” he added.