Taking Steps Toward Public Options For Banking

It’s been an interesting few weeks for the idea of public banking — establishing banks owned by government entities as a values-based alternative to ‘Wall Street’ banks. In San Francisco, where the city has charged a task force with exploring how to set up a city-owned bank, that task force is now looking into how the cannabis industry might provide a key source of deposits and clients that could help get a public bank off to a running start. California’s legal cannabis industry is forecast to grow from $2.8 billion in 2017 to $5.6 billion in 2020, but banks are loathe to deal with the industry for fear of violating federal rules that classify marijuana the same category as heroin — the result being a cannabis industry run mostly on cash. San Francisco’s Municipal Bank Feasibility Task Force thinks a municipal bank might provide the industry an option for banking services.
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