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Rep. Dina Titus marks first step in marijuana banking bill

Nevada Rep. Dina Titus on Monday donned a gold pot leaf pin on her lapel.

She and representatives of the cannabis and banking industries gathered in a Las Vegas dispensary to mark the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the SAFE Banking Act — a bill that would allow marijuana dispensaries and growers to use banks and credit unions. Currently, marijuana businesses operate with cash because federal prohibition of cannabis prevents banks from working with the companies.

“I think (Congress needs) to catch up to what the states have done, and this is a step towards doing that,” Titus said at ReLeaf Dispensary at Paradise Road and Sahara Avenue.

Titus said the legislation represented the first time a standalone marijuana bill made it to the floor of the House of Representatives. The Senate, however, still needs to pass the bill before it can go to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.

“Well, it’s going to take some work because they’re not doing much on the Senate side in any area, but I think coming out so strong and bipartisan will give it some impetus on the Senate side that marijuana issues have not had up until now,” Titus told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The U.S. House voted 321 – 103 last week to pass the bill, which Titus co-sponsored.

Phyllis Gurgevich, president of the Nevada Bankers Association, said businesses that provide services and supplies to the cannabis industry can also face issues with banking. If signed into law, this bill would help them, too.

Metropolitan Police Department lobbyist Chuck Callaway said marijuana businesses having access to banks is a public safety issue. Giving businesses access to banking can help police when allegations of financial crimes arise, he said.

“There’s much more ability to conduct investigations and follow the money trail when you’re engaged in legal banking,” Callaway told attendees.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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