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Legal Pot: The Gateway Drug to State-Run Banking?

Marijuana clone plants grown at The Joint, a medical marijuana cooperative in Seattle, on Oct. 16, 2013
Marijuana clone plants grown at The Joint, a medical marijuana cooperative in Seattle, on Oct. 16, 2013Photograph by Ted S. Warren/AP Photo

If ever a hippie dream existed, it would probably look something like what’s being proposed in Washington by Democratic State Senator Bob Hasegawa. He wants to open a state-run bank specifically to serve Washington’s newly legal marijuana industry. The proposal would solve two real problems: Pot businesses would no longer be trapped in an all-cash economy thanks to federal laws that prohibit banks from handling drug money, and the state would send less money to Wall Street.

There’s just one state-run bank in the country: the Bank of North Dakota. It uses the revenue collected through taxes and other government income to provide capital for low-interest loans to state residents, including students, homeowners, and farmers. The bank’s operations return millions to the state’s coffers. (It’s worth noting that the bank has nothing to do with pot.)