- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Democratic lawmaker in Colorado has introduced a bill that would shield banks from federal prosecution for conducting business with recently legalized marijuana retailers.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter said his measure only makes sense, given that new state laws have opened the doors for the recreational marijuana market, The Daily Caller reported. The pot business is still primarily cash-only — and part of that is due to federal laws outlawing the drug still.

Pot growers and sellers can’t take credit cards, and banks can’t process credit payments without risk of prosecution. But dealing in cash can be risky, too.

The medical marijuana trade in Colorado claimed $200 million in sales in 2012, The Daily Caller reported. And the newly legalized recreational pot market will add to that figure considerably — meaning even more tax revenues for the state.

“Each year, my companies contribute to the $5 million in tax revenues Colorado collects from the sales of medical marijuana,” said Jamie Lewis, who owns two medical marijuana shops in Denver, The Daily Caller reported. “Just like any other small business, we submit payroll taxes … [and] making those tax payments is unnecessarily challenging because we do not have access to banking services other local businesses take for granted.”

Mr. Perlmutter’s bill has bipartisan support, The Daily Caller reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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