Delaware to consider bill protecting financial businesses serving legal marijuana industry

On Thursday, a bill protecting companies that provide financial services to businesses in the legal marijuana industry was introduced in the Delaware General Assembly.

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House Bill 355, sponsored by Delaware Rep. Ed Osienski (D-24th District) and Sen. Trey Paradee (D-17th District), in partnership with Delaware State Treasurer Colleen Davis, would ensure financial services provided to marijuana businesses are legal under state law. The bill also aims to assure financial services providers that they can provide services to legal marijuana businesses without facing criminal liability.

“Banks and credit unions are hesitant to serve the marijuana industry because of concerns regarding federal prosecution or penalties since marijuana remains illegal under federal law,” Davis said. “H.B. 355 will provide state-level legal protection, and a clear legal framework for banks, payment processors, and other financial service providers to follow. It can also ease concerns about federal enforcement and regulatory compliance among these businesses – since it allows them to demonstrate to federal agencies that they’re following a clear legal framework, ultimately leading to a safer and more transparent marijuana industry.”

The legislation would provide state-level protection for financial services providers, as well as enable secure transactions which would allow marijuana businesses to use traditional banking methods and eliminate the dangers associated with managing large amounts of cash. Additionally, using traditional banking methods would reduce the risk of theft, robbery and violence associated with cash-intensive business.

The elected officials said the legislation would boost local economies by facilitating investment and growth in the marijuana industry which would lead to increased revenue and more job opportunities. More financial service companies providing services to legal marijuana businesses will increase competition and decrease the amount of marijuana business being handled on the black market, officials said.

“Across the country, we’ve witnessed dispensaries and banks alike struggling with legal uncertainty surrounding financial and accounting services for cannabis businesses. This uncertainty not only undermines the operations of state-compliant dispensaries but also hinders their access to basic business functions such as access to banking, acquiring loans, or paying taxes,” Osienski said. “We want Delaware’s safe and regulated industry to out-compete the black market. By providing dispensaries with a secure avenue to banking and compliance services, we empower them to contribute positively to our economy, keep costs down for the industry and customers, employ local talent, and fulfill their tax obligations.”