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LA Committee Says It Supports State Bill That Would Create Public Bank For Marijuana Businesses

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles City Council committee approved a resolution Friday in support of state bill that would create a public bank that could take deposits from legal marijuana businesses.

Banks currently refuse to administer funds from cannabis businesses, as marijuana is still considered illegal under federal law.

California Senate Bill 930, introduced by Sen. Bob Hertzberg of Van Nuys, "would establish a state-chartered bank that would allow a person licensed to engage in commercial cannabis activity," according to the bill's language.

The resolution to support SB 930 was proposed by Council President Herb Wesson and approved by the council's Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Wesson proposed creating such an institution for the City of Los Angeles in 2017. Voters passed Prop 64 in 2016, legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana for adults.

The L.A. City Attorney's Office discouraged the idea of a public bank that could be used by marijuana-related businesses. They said that because marijuana is still federally considered a Schedule I drug along with heroin and LSD, such an entity would violate the Bank Secrecy Act and put funds and employees of the bank at risk, City News Service reported.

Wesson has called on the city to follow the example of the 99-year-old Bank of North Dakota, the only public bank in the nation.

Back in January, Wesson fired back at U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said he would be rescinding an Obama-era practice of not prosecuting some marijuana-related crimes.

"We will not be bullied by an out-of-town and out-of-touch politician," Wesson said in a statement, referring to Sessions. "The voters of California and Los Angeles have spoken and we will continue doing our job of reasonably regulating the cannabis industry in spite of Washington running amok."

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