weather icon Clear

Proposed bill could let Nevada marijuana businesses work with banks

Updated August 17, 2018 - 8:44 pm

CARSON CITY — Nevada’s first full year of legal adult-use marijuana sales is set to exceed more than $400 million in sales. But the dispensaries, producers and marijuana growers in the state still have no stable place for all that cash.

A proposed law for the 2019 Nevada Legislature could prove to be a remedy for what is seen as one of the biggest issues facing the booming cannabis industry in the Silver State.

The proposal comes from Senate Judiciary Committee, currently chaired by state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas. It would create a state-chartered bank where privately insured institutions would be licensed to handle money from marijuana businesses.

Most major banks are federally regulated, and because marijuana is illegal federally, most banks aren’t willing to work with marijuana companies for fear of becoming a target of the federal government.

That’s led to most marijuana companies dealing in cash only. And when it comes time to pay taxes or rent, it involves carrying around large amounts of cash, often in duffel bags, which presents an inherent security risk by making those businesses an easy target for thieves.

“Banking is definitely a top priority,” said Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association. “It’s a matter of security and safety for everyone involved.”

The final language of Segerblom’s bill is still being drafted, but he said it will closely mirror a recent proposal from the California Legislature.

If Segerblom’s bill becomes law, marijuana businesses would be able to deposit money into state-licensed banks, which would issue checks that could be used for things such as paying taxes to the state, rent and vendors.

Under Segerblom’s bill, the state-chartered banks would be privately or self-insured. For local credit unions, such as the Clark County Credit Union or Silver State Schools Credit Union, that would eliminate much of the risk associated of working with marijuana businesses.

But Durrett said that in order for a charter bank system to work, it would need to be financially feasible for the cannabis companies. Other proposals that have come up in recent years, she said, have not been affordable options for the industry.

“We need banking, but we need it to be cost effective,” Durrett said.

Segerblom, who will give up his state Senate seat if he wins election to the Clark County Commission in November, said he hopes the bill will spur bigger banks to work with marijuana companies.

“What I’m hoping to do is light a fire under banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America” Segerblom said.

But the inspiration for Segerblom’s bill was dealt a blow last week when it failed to clear the California Legislature’s appropriations committee.

Segerblom said he thinks that it would have been easier to push the bill through the Nevada Legislature if it had been successful in California, but he doesn’t think that failure will be an automatic death knell for his bill.

“I still think that if we can follow their model, we’ll be better off,” Segerblom said. “It’s clear that we can’t just sit around and twiddle our thumbs and wait for something to happen.”

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
More tainted marijuana found in Las Vegas

The Nevada Department of Taxation on Monday issued a health notice after batches of marijuana sold from four Las Vegas dispensaries were found to have fungus, bacteria and high levels of mold and yeast.

Nevada marijuana official placed on leave

A top Nevada marijuana official who has faced criticism over his conduct during the state’s cannabis licensing process was placed on administrative leave last week.

Nevada marijuana license ruling could come next week

A Nevada judge said Friday she expects next week to finish hearing a case involving dozens of companies that lost bids to open new retail pot stores asking her to stop the state from licensing more marijuana businesses.