CFO Jimmy Patronis is backing a bill in Congress to open up banking options for the medical marijuana industry.
The treatment is legal in Florida, with lawmakers evenly recently approving the sale of smokable medical cannabis. But despite several states across the country relaxing their marijuana laws, the drug remains illegal at the federal level.
That dynamic has led several banks to block business with the industry altogether for fear of violating federal law. That includes SunTrust, which recently announced it was closing an account belonging to the Medical Marijuana Business Association. While some banks have begun opening their doors, many marijuana businesses are stuck dealing in cash only due to the lack of an available banking partner.
“Legitimate Florida businesses in our medical marijuana industry face incredible security threats and increased opportunity for criminal activity due to the troubling lack of banking solutions,” Patronis said.
“At no fault of their own, medical marijuana companies operating in our state are doing so as cash-only businesses, and this is unacceptable.”
That could change with the advancement of a bill in Congress called the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. The bill blocks federal regulators from sanctioning a bank which deals with the otherwise legal medical marijuana industry.
The measure passed out of the House Financial Services Committee on a 45-15 vote Thursday.
Patronis isn’t the only statewide officeholder to back the bill. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wrote the committee in February in support of the legislation. She also reiterated her support in a Thursday tweet.
— Commissioner Nikki Fried (@NikkiFriedFL) March 28, 2019
Patronis argues the bill should be approved and put on President Donald Trump‘s desk to sign.
“I ask Congress to step up and immediately approve legislation which will increase banking options for our country’s marijuana businesses,” Patronis said.