PayPal, the world’s largest digital payments service, is one of nearly two dozen companies lobbying for federal cannabis banking reforms.
The revelation came on Monday, when Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) spilled the PayPal beans on his website. Perlmutter co-authored and introduced the SAFE Banking Act to the US House of Representatives last month. The bill would allow banks and creditors to open accounts for state-approved cannabis companies.
“PayPal’s foray into lobbying on the SAFE Banking Act is a signal that mainstream financial services companies are eager to start doing business with the cannabis industry — and are willing to pony up to get the legislation through Congress,” his website wrote.
PayPal currently blocks transactions for anything related to cannabis, even for tobacco products that could be used to smoke weed, like glass pipes, bongs, and vaporizers. Pot companies can’t do business through PayPal, either.
Payment firms and federally-insured banks have refused to work with cannabis companies because they’re scared of being prosecuted for laundering drug money, since marijuana remains illegal under federal law. In 2014, the US Department of Treasury issued guidelines for cannabis banking, but without explicit legal reforms, banks and other financial institutions chose not to accept weed money, even in states where marijuana is legal.
One US bank, however, broke ranks from its fellow institutions last week. Bank of America recently started covering stock trades for the four largest cannabis companies. Most US banks don’t allow trading for weed companies, though.
Last year, Democratic senators tried amending a cannabis banking clause to a larger financial reform bill. A committee killed the amendment, although the Senate bill — which exempted the biggest banks from Frank-Dodd regulations — eventually became law.
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