OLYMPIA – Banks, credit unions and other financial institutions in Washington that receive deposits or provide financial services to licensed marijuana businesses soon won’t be breaking the law under a bill signed Thursday. At least, they won’t be breaking a state law.
A law, which takes effect in June, removes portions of state statutes that said people or financial institutions could be charged with money laundering, criminal conspiracy or profiteering if they handled money from marijuana operations. Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults in 2012, didn’t take those sections out of the Washington criminal code.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, however, and banks have been reluctant to accept accounts, forcing licensed marijuana businesses to deal in cash. Representatives of law enforcement and the region’s credit unions told the Legislature that changing state law could prompt community financial institutions to open accounts for the licensed businesses and get some cash out of the system.
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