Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has unveiled a plan designed to help the state’s marijuana businesses gain access to safer banking methods.

He outlined seven areas of focus as part of the roadmap, which is designed to provide clarity and guidance for state-chartered financial services industries that wish to work with the marijuana sector. Polis pledged to publish clear regulatory guidance that should “reduce barriers” and demonstrate state support for new financial services that can benefit cannabis producers and retailers.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, the chief sponsor of pending congressional legislation that would shield banks from being penalized solely because they accept state-legal cannabis business accounts, joined Polis in unveiling the new “Roadmap to Cannabis Banking & Financial Services”.

Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Executive Director Patty Salazar, Treasurer Dave Young and Sundie Seefried, chief executive of Partner Colorado Credit Union, also took part in the unveiling of the roadmap.

“Because of these federal prohibitions on cannabis, businesses have been blocked from accessing conventional financial products that other legal businesses take for granted, and the lack of banking opportunities and access to other financial services in Colorado really poses both an economic threat and a public safety threat,” said Polis.

Colorado was one of the first two states to legalize marijuana, along with Washington. Several others have now followed in their footsteps, but it remains fully illegal at a federal level. This prevents cannabis businesses in those states from gaining access to conventional banking methods.

Perlmutter’s Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was introduced last year in an effort to solve some of these issues. However, it does not have much Republican support, and many states – notably California – are trying to take matters into their own hands.

Representatives from the Colorado Division of Banking and Division of Financial Services have participated in several meetings with regulators in other states in a bid to work out a way around the issue. Colorado hopes to provide guidance for the financial services industry by the spring.

Perlmutter is optimistic that the SAFE Act, which cleared the House with a bipartisan vote last year, will pass the Senate Banking Committee and gain approval by the full chamber.

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