Faced With Marijuana Money Puzzle, Legislators Curious About A State-Run Bank

When Alaskans voted for an initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana, they approved a system where the drug can be bought and sold by retailers operating in the open. But with federal regulations prohibiting bank deposits of drug money, the marijuana sellers can end up holding large amounts of cash.

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Rep. Paul Seaton, a Homer Republican, wants to see if establishing a state sovereign bank could circumvent regulations that treat the deposits from legal marijuana sales as money laundering.

”What I’ve been looking at is the problem with the marijuana industry and all this cash and not being able to use banking facilities,” Seaton said. “So, the question is whether a state-chartered or state sovereign bank would have those same problems with federal regulation, and whether we could actually make an industry that works better.”

North Dakota is the only state in the country with its own sovereign bank, where the state guarantees deposits.