Recreational pot sales are scheduled to begin in July in Massachusetts, and as yet, there are no banking services for the industry predicted to have $1 billion in sales by 2020. Cannabis Control Commission chairman Steve Hoffman said in the Boston Globe, “There’s a high degree of urgency, so it’s something we need to start talking about.”
Hoffman suggests the state should consider creating a state-run bank. That adds Massachusetts to the list of states — including California and Ohio — considering Public Banking due to the urgent needs of the legalized marijuana industry.
“Unfortunately, it’s a real possibility that the recreational industry won’t have access to any banking services. We’re working as hard as we can to preempt that, but we can’t force any bank or credit union to service this industry.”
PBI Board member Nichoe Lichen said in a related American Banker article:
“There are many different uses or possible purposes for a public bank, and pot has been identified by some states as a possible focus for a public bank. Cannabis brings about a sense of urgency to the need to be able to deposit funds somewhere safely.”
Keith Cooper, chief executive of the Revolutionary Clinics dispensary in Somerville, said in the Boston Globe:
“It’d be untenable not to have any banking in Massachusetts — incredibly inconvenient and risky. Chairman Hoffman’s suggestion and creativity around trying to create a backstop is admirable, and I’d support it 100 percent.”
Mike Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, suggests:
“The concept would be much more effective [if] it was done at the outset of legalization. There are logistical challenges of putting anything in place after the marketplace is up and running.”
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