Illinois turns to feds for help with medical marijuana

(Illinois News Network)–Illinois’ treasurer is asking President Donald Trump for some clarity on federal marijuana laws so that banks will be less hesitant to do business with the fledgling medical cannabis industry.

In a January letter to Trump, Treasurer Michael Frerichs said Illinois’ medicinal marijuana facilities are struggling to secure loans and even a bank to deposit their cash. This is because marijuana is still federally outlawed and banks are hesitant to risk penalties or even prosecution for doing business with dispensaries and growers. Businesses in Illinois are just looking for some certainty, Frerichs said.

“Without certainty from the Trump administration, we think that’s going to inhibit economic growth in our state,” he said.

Dispensaries are having trouble filing taxes because they might not have bank statements to show revenue, Frerichs said.

“Banks don’t want to take their money for fear that it might hurt their charter,” he said. Some dispensaries are even putting themselves at risk because they have to keep large sums of money at their facilities in lieu of depositing it with a bank.

Trump’s newly confirmed attorney general, former Sen. Jeff Sessions, has given some opinions that are keeping banks nervous about doing business with the cannabis industry locally, Frerichs said.

Medical marijuana taxes and fees go to Frerichs’ office for investment. There is a 7 percent privilege tax imposed on cultivation centers and dispensaries. Ordinary payroll and income taxes also are paid. Illinois has collected $15.7 million in licenses, taxes and fees since the program began in 2014.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are about 14,700 patients allowed to use medical cannabis in Illinois. As of January 2017, there are 49 licensed dispensaries in Illinois.

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