Weed Bank Proposal Passes First Legislative Hurdle in California

Marijuana is weighed on a scale at Virgil Grant's dispensary in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2018. (Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

Marijuana is weighed on a scale at Virgil Grant's dispensary in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2018. (Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

California would license special banks to handle billions of dollars generated by the legal marijuana market under legislation buoyed by recent comments from the Trump administration and given initial approval by state lawmakers on Wednesday.

The measure gained momentum just days after President Trump indicated that his administration would not crack down on recreational marijuana in states that have voted to make it legal. Selling and growing marijuana for recreational use was legalized by California voters under a state licensing system that began Jan. 1.

Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles), who introduced the bill, said the president’s policy shift makes it more likely that state-chartered banks would be used by the burgeoning cannabis market, which is projected to grow to $7 billion annually by 2020 in California.

“I’ve spoken to these companies about the problems their businesses face, and until last week, many were under constant threat of getting busted by the feds,” Hertzberg said. “If the risk of federal intervention is eliminated, cannabis businesses will feel more confident about opening an account with our limited state charter.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.