Senators from both parties try to ease banking for marijuana businesses


Cannabis grower Steve Dillon tends to his plants on his farm in Humboldt County, California, U.S. August 28, 2016.  REUTERS/Rory Carroll

By Lisa Lambert | WASHINGTON

Republican and Democratic senators on Wednesday renewed their drive to make banking easier for marijuana-based businesses in those U.S. states where the drug is legal, undeterred by signals from the Trump administration about maintaining tough marijuana restrictions nationally.

The eight senators, who spanned the political spectrum from libertarian-leaning Republican Rand Paul to liberal Democrat Cory Booker, introduced the bill to block federal banking regulators from somehow pushing a financial institution to stop serving a state-sanctioned marijuana business or the businesses’ landlords or lawyers.

The government would also not be allowed to give banks incentives to cut off the businesses.

While marijuana is legal for medicinal or recreational use in 44 states, the federal government still considers it an illegal and highly dangerous drug.

Under former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, regulators gave banks guidance on working with cannabis-related businesses and staying within the law. But the guidance intimidated most financial institutions and they cut ties with the sector, saying compliance with extensive requirements was too expensive and did not assure them they would not be prosecuted in the future.

The current situation leads dispensaries to either deal all in cash or hide their business’ true nature from banks, creating public-safety and legal risks, lawmakers say.

The unlikely collection of senators sponsoring Wednesday’s bill have attempted to get similar legislation approved before, and gained wider support with each try. That could help the legislation pass the closely divided Senate.

Since President Donald Trump took office in January, marijuana advocates have staged demonstrations in Washington, including distributing hundreds of free joints on inauguration day.

But last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has long opposed easing pot restrictions, ordered the Justice Department to toughen prosecutions of all magnitudes of drug crimes. He has also made drugs a top issue for his crime-reduction task force.

Proponents of legalizing pot, meanwhile, were worried by a statement Trump released when he signed a massive spending bill at the beginning of the month.

In part, Trump used the statement to signal that he would like to go after states’ medical marijuana laws. The spending bill bars Justice from using any funds to block states from implementing those laws, a prohibition that Trump said goes against his constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute federal laws.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Tom Brown)

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Banks Financing Dakota Access Pipeline Decline Meeting with Tribal Leaders


One month after the pipeline was effectively put “on hold” by the Army Corps of Engineers, major commercial banks are still banking on the project — and losing thousands of customers a week as a result.

Standing Rock, ND – For the last six weeks, a global coalition has been pressuring banks providing project loans to the Dakota Access Pipeline to renegotiate or cancel their loans. In December, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Indigenous leaders requested that each of these banks meet with tribal representatives to hear their concerns.
The deadline for banks to respond to the Tribe’s meeting request was January 10, and as of this statement:

  • Four banks have declined: BayernLB, BNP Paribas, Mizuho Bank, and Suntrust
  • Six banks have not responded at all: Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, BBVA Compass, ICBC, Intesa Sanpaolo, Natixis, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
  • Seven banks have met or agreed to meet with the Tribe and its allies: Citi, Crédit Agricole, DNB, ING, Société Générale, TD, and Wells Fargo

In response, organizers are escalating their pressure on banks that refuse to engage. The Indigenous coalition at Standing Rock has a running billboard in Times Square asking millions of people to #DefundDAPL. Organizers continue a drumbeat of protests and bank occupations, along with brand-damaging campaigns that have already led to the closure of thousands of accounts worth a self-reported $46,314,727.18.
Protests have increased in fervor and frequency over the last few weeks, including multiple occupations of Wells Fargo, US Bank and Citibank branches, as well as a daring banner drop during a nationally televised Vikings/Bears NFL game at US Bank Stadium in protest of their bankrolling of DAPL project sponsors Sunoco Logistics and Energy Transfer Partners.
Backed by hundreds of thousands of online signatures and commitments to #DefundDAPL, organizers from more than 25 grassroots groups vowed the campaign will continue and intensify in the coming weeks, building up to a planned “global week of action” unless all 17 of the banks act. The ask for the banks is to discontinue loan disbursements in consultation with Native leaders until outstanding issues are resolved, and Free, Prior and Informed Consent from Indigenous peoples is upheld.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said: “We are pleased that some of the banks behind DAPL are willing to engage Standing Rock Sioux leadership, but maintain that all 17 should not be helping a company who deliberately ignores our concerns. We call on the remaining banks to agree to a meeting with the Tribe. We know that they have heard Energy Transfer Partners’ side of the story, and they need to hear our perspective as well.”

Ladonna Bravebull Allard, Sacred Stone Camp said: “I want the banks to know that the power of their investment comes from the people, and the people are saying we have the right to water, and we will stand for the water. Stop investing in destruction of the earth.”

Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director, Honor the Earth said: “This movement has shown again and again that the power and strength of the people is incredible. Banks need our dollars to make their investments. We can and must hold these financial backers accountable for supporting destruction of our shared planet and futures. Move past dated fuels and justly transition to a green economy.”

Eryn Wise, International Indigenous Youth Council said: “What began as a protection of the earth has now become a reclamation of power. We are demanding that our interests as a prospering people be put before banks and their investments. We hold in our hands the ability to encourage divestment to the point of fruition and we will not back down.”

Dallas Goldtooth, Keep it in the Ground Organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network said: “As a movement to stop this dirty Bakken oil pipeline, we are demonstrating the inherent power of organized communities and mobilized citizens. We are showing Big Oil and government leaders that we know the power of our capital, and as such we collectively choose to invest in life and water, not death and oil. As first peoples of the land and in defense of our Indigenous rights, we will continue to rise, resist, self-determine and divest until the Dakota Access pipeline is nothing but the defeated aspirations of a Energy Transfer Partners’ dream.”

Judith LeBlanc, Director, Native Organizers Alliance said: “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has a spiritual obligation to protect the Missouri River for all. The best way for the banks to meet their obligation to protect their investor’s interest is to meet with the Tribal leadership. Mother Earth and all of our ancestors deserve the opportunity for an exchange on our shared moral obligations to protect Mother Earth for generations to come.”

Sara Nelson, Executive Director, Romero Institute and the Lakota People’s Law Project said: “We are moving our financial accounts from Wells Fargo to a local bank that does not invest in companies who violate Indigenous rights and environmental impact requirements, and will not endanger clean water for millions of people. We want our money used to support positive solutions for our children’s future, not to float big companies who send oil overseas, make the American people pay for inevitable spills, and generate profits for banks and billion dollar global companies.”

Leila Salazar López, Executive Director, Amazon Watch said: “From Standing Rock to the Amazon, Indigenous peoples are defending their territories and providing a model for a fossil free world. It’s time banks listen to Indigenous peoples and their allies in our call to Keep It In The Ground.”

Lindsey Allen, Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network said: “Investing in a project of Energy Transfer Partners, a company that has abused Indigenous and human rights, was a big mistake. These banks now have a chance to fix it by meeting with the Standing Rock Sioux, and upholding Free, Prior and Informed Consent from Indigenous peoples.”

Dr. Gabriela Lemus, President of Progressive Congress Action Fund said: “No bank should support poisoning communities’ land and water- yet too many banks still have investments in Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline. We call on these banks to divest completely. Families’ lives are at risk, and that should always take priority over profits. All banks have a responsibility not only to their shareholders and customers, but to the communities that are impacted by their investments. Don’t keep funding this dangerous project.”

Todd Larsen, Executive Co-Director of Green America said: “Banks need to end investments that harm the rights and lives of Indigenous peoples. We call on all banks to divest entirely from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Until these banks do so, all Americans should divest their money from any bank providing financing to this ruinous pipeline.”

Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth U.S. said: “The voices of Indigenous peoples have been ignored for too long – by the US government, corporations and big banks. By not acknowledging Indigenous peoples, or outright refusing to meet with them, these ten banks are perpetuating a pattern of colonialism and failing to respect Indigenous peoples’ rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.”

Johan Frijns, Director of BankTrack said: “The Dakota Access Pipeline project is supposed to be in compliance with the Equator Principles, and therefore guarantee Indigenous peoples’ rights to be properly consulted. The refusal of leading EP banks to meet with the Sioux Tribe not only makes a complete mockery of that commitment, but also poses a severe risk to the very credibility of the Equator Principles.”

Vanessa Green, Director of DivestInvest Individual said: “DAPL is simply the wrong kind of investment, and people don’t want their money behind it. With government mandates to scale up clean energy investments, a market increasingly supportive of a low carbon future, and unprecedented consumer and investor interest in moving money into climate and community solutions, the question now is which banks will lose the most in this historic energy transition.”

Mary Sweeters, Arctic Campaigner with Greenpeace USA, said: “People across the world have pledged their solidarity with the Indigenous communities who reject this dirty pipeline and the threat it poses to the water and climate. The banks must choose whether they want to continue to invest their money in yesterday or listen to the millions of people who stand with Standing Rock.”

Lena Moffitt, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Director, said, “People power can, does, and will continue to prevail over corporate polluters. The people will not stop until the banks financing these operations invest in our clean air and water — not fossil fuels.”

Bipartisan marijuana banking bill introduced in the Senate


By Burgess Everett

7/9/15 4:41 PM EDT

Updated 7/9/15 5:24 PM EDT

 

Reflecting growing public support for changing the nation’s drug laws, a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced the chamber’s first bill that would legalize banking for recreational marijuana companies.

Introduced by the Senate delegations from Oregon and Colorado, two of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the bill would prohibit the federal government from penalizing banks that work with marijuana businesses.

Though four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, the drug is still illegal under federal law. That makes it difficult for businesses operating in those legalized states to access financial services through the banking industry. Instead, those companies have to run all-cash operations that the senators say invite crime.

The entire legal landscape that legal marijuana currently faces is “insane,” said GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado in an interview.

“If you’re an employee or a store owner you can’t put money in the bank, but if you’re a municipality collecting tax you can collect the tax, you can put it in the bank and you can spend it. This is insane,” Gardner said. “It solves a public safety issue, it clarifies a regulatory nightmare and it clears up a pretty blatant hypocrisy.”

Indeed, Congress has been extraordinarily hesitant to address the nettlesome issue of marijuana law. Another landmark bill for the Senate from Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that would legalize medical marijuana in states that have approved it has run into opposition from the Senate’s old guard.

But the upbeat Gardner noted that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) now supports a bipartisan bill that would exclude cannabidiol, which has more medicinal uses, from the definition of marijuana in federal law. He said Congress will come along, eventually.

“Now, does it have a chance? I think there’s a lot of work that has to be done to give it that chance, but I also think that in 10 years most every other state in the country is going to be facing this question,” Gardner said. “People are coming on board and people are starting to realize we have a policy that’s kind of out of step.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/bipartisan-senate-recreational-marijuana-banking-bill-119924.html#ixzz3fSmDCAX1

Marijuana cash is problem for Illinois tax collection


Updated: Jun 19, 2015 10:22 AM CST

CHICAGO (Associated Press) – The state of Illinois is having trouble finding a bank or financial company to process the large amounts of cash it anticipates receiving for taxes and fees from its new medical marijuana industry.

The state received no response to a solicitation published last fall. Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs has started a formal process to find out why.

The legal marijuana industry tends to operate with cash only. Experts say banks and credit card companies are wary because the federal government considers marijuana an illegal drug.

The Illinois treasurer is asking the financial industry for input by June 29. An armored car services requirement has been deleted from the new draft because it was "believed to be a deterrent to proposals."

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Michael Tellinger seminar on hidden acient technology and how the world banking system has turned us all into slaves…


In Slave Species of god, Michael Tellinger takes his readers on a remarkable odyssey of the true origins of humankind in which he:

* draws clear and startling analogies between new discoveries in genetic engineering and ancient archaeological finds…
* highlights emerging scientific information overlooked in the past…
* unravels the Bible’s often obscure stories by linking these to their original forms in Sumerian clay tablets and other prehistoric writings…
* provides explicit answers to why our modern world has become so senseless and chaotic by revealing the very secrets of our prehistory…

In 2012 Tellinger founded the Ubuntu Party in South Africa, based on his principles of contributionism. It contested in the 2014 National Elections.[3]

 

 

Legalized Marijuana: Companies Moving Now To Cash In On Cannabis


Largely illegal in the U.S. for a century, weed became legal in Washington and Colorado at the start of the year after voters in those states gave the go-ahead in 2012. Further north, voters could decide in August whether Alaska will become the third state to remove prohibitions on the recreational use of pot. A poll released Monday by Quinnipiac University suggests residents of New York, a state notorious for its strict drug laws, are in favor of legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use by a comfortable margin of 18 percentage points.

Estimates of the total value of a legal pot industry in the U.S. are hard to establish in part because the current price of marijuana is artificially high; illegal substances, after all, are a significant risk to black market dealers and buyers, and with that comes a premium. A 2011 report by See Change Strategy, which focuses on growth in new markets, estimated that the value of medical marijuana alone would grow from $1.7 billion to about $9 billion by 2016.

Here are some companies that have begun positioning themselves to cash in on this cash crop: CONTINUE THRU THIS LINK!

By Angelo Young on February 20 2014 10:59 AM

Marijuana Retailer

Above:  Nate Johnson, managing owner of the Queen Anne Cannabis Club, sells a marijuana strain called "Beast Mode OG", named after NFL player Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle, Washington January 28, 2014. Reuters

Legal Pot: The Gateway Drug to State-Run Banking?


By Karen Weise January 09, 2014


 

 

If ever a hippie dream existed, it would probably look something like what’s being proposed in Washington by Democratic State Senator Bob Hasegawa. He wants to open a state-run bank specifically to serve Washington’s newly legal marijuana industry. The proposal would solve two real problems: Pot businesses would no longer be trapped in an all-cash economy thanks to federal laws that prohibit banks from handling drug money, and the state would send less money to Wall Street.

There’s just one state-run bank in the country: the Bank of North Dakota. It uses the revenue collected through taxes and other government income to provide capital for low-interest loans to state residents, including students, homeowners, and farmers. The bank’s operations return millions to the state’s coffers. (It’s worth noting that the bank has nothing to do with pot.)

As the financial crisis caused a credit crunch for borrowers, some citizens and states themselves started looking to North Dakota as a model of how to keep lending afloat. “After the banking crisis in 2008, some farmers came to me from eastern Washington, literally in tears, saying their credit was being cut off,” Hasegawa says.

Story: Making It Safe for Banks to Take (Legal) Pot Money

Heather Morton, who tracks financial regulation at the National Conference of State Legislatures, found bills in six state legislatures in 2010 related to the creation of state-run banks. Interest swelled as the economy continued to struggle and the Occupy Wall Street movement took up the idea of state banks as an alternative to Wall Street. By 2011 the number of states with bills contemplating the creation of their own banks hit 15, according to Morton’s research, before legislation eventually tapered off last year as the economy improved.

In Washington, one of eight states in which legislation was put forward in 2013, the state-banking push predates the advent of a legal marijuana retail sector. Hasegawa’s bill, which he has sponsored for several years, gained support from 44 out of 98 lawmakers in 2012 but was killed in the banking committee. Each year, Hasegawa tinkers with the legislation in response to opponents, who include the state’s banking community, bond brokers, and the state treasurer. The critics argue that the effort is too risky and would diminish competition, among other things. (After lengthy study, a formal commission in Massachusetts recommended against creating a bank there, saying the effort would be more capital-intensive than it’s worth.)

After voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana in Washington last year, however, Hasegawa saw a new opening. Marijuana businesses have had to resort to largely operating in cash and have been agitating for federal authorities to give banks permission to handle pot accounts. Because pot isn’t legal at the national level, federal money-laundering laws prevent financial institutions from handing marijuana-related money.

Story: Surge Pricing as Colorado’s Pot Sellers Open for Business

Hasegawa has submitted a new bill for the 2014 legislative session that would create a state-run bank as the sole depository for the state’s marijuana businesses. Passage of the bill, which Hasegawa knows is a long shot, would provide “a foot in the door” to a broader state-run bank. But even if it fails, the state senator still sees an upside: “It has drawn the debate away from the detractors of the other arguments.” Washington’s legislative session opens on Jan. 13, and recreational sales in the state are expected to start this spring.

Opposition has now “focused on the illegality of marijuana itself,” Hasegawa says, “which makes me think a lot of their other arguments are really just smoke screens.”

Story: Legal Weed’s Strange Economics in Colorado

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Weise is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York. Follow her on Twitter @kyweise.