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Delaware Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Banking Bill That Aims To Provide State-Level Protections



A Delaware legislative panel has approved a bill that would enact state-level protections for banks that provide services to licensed marijuana businesses.

The bill, filed by Rep. Ed Osienski (D) and Sen. Trey Paradee (D), has the endorsement of state Treasurer Colleen Davis (D). Its approval on Tuesday by the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance & Commerce Committee comes amid mounting pressure on Congress to enact federal cannabis banking reform.

“This legislation will provide more financial transparency, customer convenience and a much safer environment when retail marijuana traction transactions begin,” Osienski, who also sponsored legislation that legalized marijuana last year, told the committee ahead of the vote.

“The way things are operating right now in Delaware increases the costs to legal marijuana businesses, which then those increased costs get passed on to the customers,” he said. “What we’re trying to do here in Delaware is to compete against the illegal market. So this is good legislation to help those in Delaware that are getting into this industry to be able to have banking services that our other businesses have the opportunity to have in Delaware.”

The Delaware measure is designed to clarify that banks, credit unions, armored car services and accounting services providers are not subject to state-level prosecution simply for working with cannabis businesses.

“This Act aims to facilitate the operation of cannabis-related businesses by helping to ensure that such businesses have access to necessary financial and accounting services,” the bill synopsis says.

Davis, the treasurer, said in a press release last week that “H.B. 355 will provide state-level legal protection, and a clear legal framework for banks, payment processors, and other financial service providers to follow.”

“It can also ease concerns about federal enforcement and regulatory compliance among these businesses—since it allows them to demonstrate to federal agencies that they’re following a clear legal framework, ultimately leading to a safer and more transparent marijuana industry,” she said.

A press release from Davis’s office also says that, in addition to providing the basic protections, the bill would effectively boost the economy, enhance safety and promote competition.

The banking bill comes as regulators are rolling out a series of draft regulations to stand up the adult-use cannabis market. The current timeline puts the launch of the market at March 2025, according to Delaware Marijuana Commissioner Robert Coupe.

Coupe also weighed in on the banking measure, stating that the “inability to access traditional banking services presents a serious challenge for Delaware’s marijuana businesses.”

“Cash-intensive operations leave the businesses vulnerable to theft and other crimes, and present additional obstacles in their efforts to comply with tax laws,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Delaware Senate committee approved a House-passed bill last week to significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program by removing limitations for patient eligibility based on a specific set of qualifying health conditions. Instead, doctors could issue marijuana recommendations for any condition they see fit.

The legislation would also allow patients over the age of 65 to self-certify for medical cannabis access without the need for a doctor’s recommendation.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,400 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

The new financial services legislation, meanwhile, is the latest example of a state proactively seeking to provide marijuana banking protections as federal reform continues to stall. However, congressional leaders have signaled that they intend to prioritize the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act this year.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently asked people to show their support for a marijuana banking bill by signing a petition as he steps up his push for the legislation.

Schumer told Marijuana Moment earlier this month that the bill remains a “very high priority” for the Senate, and members are having “very productive” bicameral talks to reach a final agreement.

Ongoing federal marijuana prohibition has created a “real problem” for banks amid the growing state legalization movement, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently said, adding that it would be “desirable” for Congress to pass reform legislation to address the issue.

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