The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is suggesting the creation of a state-run bank to serve the state’s canna-businesses after Chairman Steve Hoffman pointed out that no local banks or credit unions have indicated they would provide services to the industry, the Boston Globe reports.
“There’s a high degree of urgency, so it’s something we need to start talking about. Unfortunately, it’s a real possibility. 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.” – Hoffman to the Globe
The commission is concerned that a high-volume, cash-only industry would not only make the businesses a target for crime but would also complicate tax payments and product tracking efforts.
Gov. Charlie Baker’s office told the Globe that there are currently no plans to create such an entity. The measure would likely need legislative approval. According to the report, only Century Bank of Somerville is currently offering services to the state’s medical cannabis businesses. Massachusetts recreational cannabis industry is expected to be worth $1 billion by 2020. The state Department of Revenue expects to collect between $44 million and $82 million in cannabis-derived taxes in the next fiscal year.
Federally, some officials support allowing canna-businesses to access financial services. Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the agency doesn’t “want bags of cash” and “want to make sure [the federal government] can collect [the] necessary taxes and other things.” In January, attorney generals from 17 states, Washington. D.C. and Guam sent a letter to Congress urging them to “advance legislation that would allow states that have legalized medical or recreational use of marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system.”
Massachusetts’ recreational cannabis industry is expected to come online July 1.