By Anthony Martinelli

Legislation that would protect banks who provide services to medical marijuana businesses has been passed by the full West Virginia House of Delegates.

House Bill 2538 was overwhelmingly approved by the House, with 89 members voting in favor and just seven voting in opposition. The measure, which was introduced by Delegate Eric Nelson (R), now moves to the Senate. Passage in the Senate would put it before Governor Jim Justice for consideration.

“The Legislature finds and declares that the inability to provide banking services needed to collect and remit the fees, penalties, and taxes authorized under the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act has delayed the implementation and is precluding access by the patients and investment by the persons and entities interested in providing services under the Act”, states the bill’s official text. “The purpose of this section is to provide a solution to the banking problems encountered by the state in connection with the Act.”

To achieve this the state government would no longer be able to “prohibit, penalize, incentivize, or otherwise impair” any financial institution that decides to work with a marijuana-related business that’s legal under state law.

The proposal goes on to state that West Virginia “shall defend the Treasurer and the state officers and employees involved in cannabis-related banking services against any claims, charges, liabilities or expenses and shall indemnify and hold harmless the Treasurer in any state employee involved in cannabis-related banking services provided within the scope of their duties or employment in accordance with the Act, including without limitation, defense in any state, federal, or local court and payment of the amount of any judgment obtained, damages, legal fees and expenses, and any other expenses incurred.”

For the full text of House Bill 2538, click here.

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