Public bank to be owned by San Francisco gains traction as cannabis deadline nears 

By  –  Digital Producer, San Francisco Business Times

December 3, 2017 (bizjournals.com)

Two San Francisco city supervisors are pushing the city to open its own public bank, in a bid to keep the city from being too involved with large commercial banks and as a way to give cannabis business owners a place to bank safely.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that Supervisors Malia Cohen and Sandra Fewer have been studying the idea and even asked for a Budget Analyst report on how the city might launch its own bank, which the city has the legal authority to do. You can read the full text of that report here.

“This ongoing public banking discussion is coming at an important moment in our community,” Cohen said last week, the paper reports. “… In our long cannabis discussion, we have barely acknowledged that cannabis is currently an all-cash business — cash payroll, no banking, vaults of bills on the floors of retailers.”

If San Francisco did create a public bank, it would be the first city in the nation to have one; the only other state-owned and operated bank in the country is the Bank of North Dakota.

The issue isn’t a new one: At the beginning of November, State Treasurer John Chiang said California should explore creating a public bank to handle the $1 billion projected to be generated by the legalization of recreational marijuana, adding that the state should be ready to deploy armored cars to collect taxes on the industry, too.

The next step will be the supes asking for the City Attorney’s Office to weigh in on the legality of banking with the cannabis business community, which will soon be selling recreational marijuana starting Jan. 1.

To read more about the public bank debate, click here.

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