Las Vegas Sun

December 19, 2014

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Rule change allows banks to do business with marijuana dispensaries

CARSON CITY — A shift in federal policy to allow banks to service state-sanctioned marijuana businesses will “make a huge difference” in establishing dispensaries in Nevada, the father of the state’s medical marijuana law said.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that federal regulations would be changed to permit banks to do business with state-legal marijuana outlets.

Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who introduced Nevada’s medical marijuana bill that became law, said today the policy change “comes at the right time” for Nevada.

Nevada’s law becomes effective April 1, and the state is putting the finishing touches on regulations to oversee growers, producers, inspection facilities and dispensaries.

On Sept. 18, the Las Vegas City Council passed a six-month moratorium on licensing any medical-marijuana businesses.

Because of the banking regulations, there have news reports from Colorado, where the sale of marijuana is legal, that dispensaries are holding large sums of cash because they can’t get the banks to accept the deposits.

That, in turn, has led to a fear of robberies.

Although the law in Nevada becomes effective in April, the state says it will take several months to conduct background checks and verify the finances of individuals and companies applying for licenses.

The law allows 40 dispensaries in Clark County, 10 in Washoe County, two in Carson City and one each in the 14 rural counties.

A 2 percent excise tax will be imposed on marijuana sales, in addition to the regular sales tax.

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