Oklahoma lawmakers have approved a bill to establish the nation’s first marijuana banking system in the Sooner State.
The big banking problem for the medical marijuana industry remains that the drug is federally illegal, making any money that touches it illegal in the eyes of the federal government.
Now, Oklahoma lawmakers are looking to cryptocurrency as a model for circumventing federal banking laws.
“This is based on the real dollar, we just stole their method they were using,” rep Justin Humphry, R-Lane, said.
He said his bill would bring medical marijuana banking into the 21st century.
“Kind of like the ideal of a credit card, so if you swipe a credit card, it’s a digital process,” he said.
The bill aims to reduce the industry’s reliance on money, which Humphry says will help weed out bad actors.
“We are not looking to tax more. We are not looking to increase fees any further,” he said. “We’re looking for a way to help control their industry to make sure the legal people have a way to pay money and the illegal people can’t operate.”
While Humphry said the system would help the state raise hundreds of millions of dollars in currently unreported taxes, he wasn’t sure how much the system would cost the state.
“We’re talking about a billion-dollar industry in medical marijuana,” Rep. Andy Fugate, D-OKC, told the House. “Are you satisfied that it’s okay for them to lower every medical marijuana charge in the state of Oklahoma?”
“I’m comfortable with the fact that it’s the price of doing business and it’s business,” Humphry replied. “And so, if they exploit that, they should be paid for the operation.”
HB3279 passed with bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition 75 to 11.
This bill can now be heard from the Senate side. The House and Senate adjourned Tuesday afternoon after a short week of spring recess. Things will resume next Monday.