Pot-industry bank option sought

DENVER – A Colorado plan to set up the world’s first financial system for marijuana cleared its first hurdle in the state Legislature Thursday, despite deep reservations from supporters that the plan will work.

The bill approved 9-2 by a House committee is prompted by frustration with recent marijuana banking guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department.

The measure would allow state-licensed marijuana businesses to create a financial co-op, sort of an uninsured credit union. The U.S. Federal Reserve would still have to grant permission for the co-ops to provide services like checking and credit.

Sponsors acknowledged the plan is a long-shot attempt to again try to move the marijuana away from its cash-only roots without running afoul of federal law. Colorado has struggled for years to find ways to help its pot industry access banks.