CA Treasurer and AG launch a study of Public Banking for the now-legal pot industry


Photo by Jae C. Hong, courtesy Sacramento Bee.


CA Treasurer John Chiang, a candidate for governor, and Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday they will move forward with plans to create a state bank for the cannabis industry and conduct a feasibility study they aim to complete by end of the year.

Chiang said this month’s move by US Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to revoke Obama administration guidelines limiting enforcement of marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal has added urgency and incentive to create a Public Bank. Chiang continued: 

California and other states will need to lead when it comes to bringing the cannabis industry out of the shadows.”

Marc Armstrong, president of Commonomics USA, said that along with pushing the Public Bank conversation forward, the cannabis industry illustrates another big problem with commercial banking: exclusion of wide swaths of customers. Armstrong explained: 

“When you have such a large segment of the population excluded precisely because of federal regulation, you end up putting a spotlight on the glaring inequalities of the banking system and how inadequately it provides services to the economy.”

Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Assn. and a member of Chiang’s working group, said:

“As cannabis business owners, we’re interested in anything that would change the status quo. If there were a public bank and our members could do business with it, our members would open accounts in droves.”

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