California considering creating a state-run bank for cannabis businesses

California government, financial and marijuana business leaders met last week in a far-from-resolved debate over whether a state-run bank could be the solution to the cannabis industry’s banking problem.

Supporters argued during a Los Angeles gathering of California’s Cannabis Banking Working Group that a public bank would give the state autonomy, serve communities that struggle with bank access and send a message that could shift the nation’s financial paradigm away from Wall Street.

Critics insisted a public bank would be too pricey, too risky and do little to overcome banking problems triggered by the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.

Though eight states have legalized recreational marijuana and 30 permit medical cannabis, the federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic on par with heroin. That means major banks and credit card companies won’t do business with growers, manufacturers and dispensaries out of fear they’ll…

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