As time goes on, it has become abundantly clear that accessible banking for those within the cannabis industry is sorely lacking. This month, DOPE Magazine spoke with an Oregon legislator, Representative Tobias Read, who’s working towards banking reform for cannabis businesses. Read has been a state representative since 2006, and was the champion behind the cannabis business banking legislation that passed through Oregon’s legislature in March. Rep. Read is also running for Oregon State Treasurer in 2016.
DOPE Magazine: Why are you running for Oregon State Treasurer?
Representative Tobias Read: To promote a growing economy that nurtures opportunity, responsibility, and community for all Oregonians by acting for our long run financial future.
DM: What are some issues you feel strongly about that you would work hard to address if elected as state treasurer?
TR: I’ll focus to ensure the successful implementation of our innovative retirement security legislation, plan to prioritize the wise management of the state’s debt for infrastructure and improvements to Oregon’s schools, and
work toward establishing a Child Savings Accounts program, which would create a savings account for every child in their name. This is not everything I plan to do as State Treasurer, but these are emblematic of the solutions I’ll push for.
DM: Last month, Oregon Congress passed the cannabis business banking bill, that you were the chief sponsor for, which removes criminal liability for providing financial services to marijuana-related businesses. Why did you choose to sponsor this? Why is this issue important to you?
TR: I chose to introduce this bill because our current situation presents serious economic and public safety concerns. I’m running to promote long term financial stability in Oregon, and this bill looks for a long term solution before the federal government decides to act.
There is a legitimate industry in Oregon entirely based on cash. Our bill attempts to solve this problem by doing two things. One, it provides security for banks and credit unions by removing criminal liability from state law when dealing with lawful cannabis businesses. Two, it directs the Department of Consumer and Business Services to look for long term solutions to this issue over the next several months. There still needs to be changes at the federal level, but these are steps in the right direction, and we can’t wait for the federal government to act.
Everyone agrees that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Regardless of how legislators feel about cannabis, many agree that we need to provide financial services to the industry.
DM: How would you plan to work with cannabis industry professionals in Oregon if elected state treasurer?
TR: I plan to continue to keep an open dialogue, and use the expertise and guidance of cannabis industry professionals as we navigate a new market and look for ways to deliver banking services to a legitimate new industry.
DM: Where would you like to see cannabis banking reform go from here?
TR: I would like to see the federal government act and provide clarity for states that have legalized marijuana. I’m encouraged knowing that our own federal delegation, especially Congressman Earl Blumenauer, continue to work tirelessly on this issue.