WASHINGTON D.C. (NEXSTAR) — The growing marijuana industry could soon get access to something it has long wanted — the banking system.
Right now, federal law prohibits banks from doing business with legal grow operations.
Legal marijuana buyers could soon have the option to use plastic over cash.
“The genie is kind of out of the bottle,” said Rep. Steve Stivers, R-OH.
The House recently passed the Safe Banking Act, which allows federally regulated banks to work with marijuana businesses legal at the state level.
“So that they can have payroll accounts and credit cards and checking accounts, which, today, they don’t have,” said Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-CO.
Even some lawmakers opposed to recreational use, like Stivers, said it’s time to let the banking business in.
“My position is opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana, but I want a safe and secure banking system and a safe environment for every citizen,” he said.
Thirty-three states allow some form of legal marijuana use, and some experts think the industry could be worth as much as $50 billion a year in less than a decade, making it a major part of the economy.
“We need the banking system to be able to operate in the world that exists, not some theoretical world that we all think should exist,” Stivers said.
The bill passed the House with wide support from both Republicans and Democrats.
Now, it’s up to the Senate to pass it on to the president.
“I think it has a good chance of passing the Senate,” Perlmutter said.
Lawmakers said they’ve kept the White House informed of the issue, but so far, haven’t heard which way the president is leaning.