Tuesday, May 2, 2023

By:  Zach Bruhl


GOSHEN, Ore. – Since 2015, recreational marijuana has been legal in Oregon, but federal prohibition means dispensaries have operated in a financial grey area.

Federally insured banks can’t back cannabis businesses, meaning many of those businesses can only take cash.

The SAFE Banking Act, co-sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley, is aimed at changing that.

He emphasized the bill’s importance in a statement:

The bill would create a federal loophole of sorts, allowing federally insured banks to back legal cannabis businesses – like Green Therapy, a dispensary in Goshen, which was robbed at gunpoint in 2019.

Manager Steven Inniss believes a bill like this could reduce the risk of repeated robberies.

He says he believes there is added risk in the cannabis business, as they could become targets of crime due to their cash-only status.

Additionally, with the current laws, Oregon dispensaries can only use certain banks, many of which are out-of-state.

Green Therapy banks with a company in Arkansas, meaning some of the money earned in Oregon leaves the state.

“The tax revenue money is supposed to be here,” Inniss says. “It’s supposed to be going towards things to make the community better – addiction treatment and stuff like that. We all vote on if it’s leaving the state; it’s definitely not doing that.”

The SAFE Banking Act has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.