Banking woes easing for some legal pot businesses

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Banking remains a major hurdle for the legal marijuana industry, but new federal data suggest that's beginning to change.

The number of banks and credit unions telling the government that they're handling marijuana money has jumped five-fold in the past two years, from 51 in March 2014 to 301 last month. And in Washington state, most marijuana businesses are paying taxes electronically — not in cash.

But the progress is still relatively slight, and it's still tough for marijuana businesses to get loans, even in Washington, Colorado and Oregon, where regulated sales are legal.

Because so many pot dealers pay taxes in cash, those states have turned government offices into mini-fortresses to safely handle payments. It's an issue facing California, Arizona, Nevada and other states considering legalizing marijuana this year.