The state is drawing inspiration from the gambling industry to get cannabis businesses access to banks
By Liz Farmer | Governing
Nevada hopes to be the first state to create its own banking system for the booming marijuana industry, which has generated more than $150 million in tax revenue since 2017, according to Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine’s office.
Since the drug is still illegal under federal law, most banks won’t accept cannabis businesses as clients. As a result, the multimillion-dollar industry is mainly a cash business — at least for now.
Under a three-year pilot program, Nevada will allow marijuana businesses and consumers to deal in electronic tokens. The system will work much the same way as in in casinos, where players buy and bet with chips. “You exchange cash for casino chips and those chips transfer around the casino,” says Conine. “At the end, you convert them back into cash.”