State pot bank a long shot

The chairman of the  Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission floated the idea of opening a state-run bank to serve marijuana businesses, but the idea faces a lot of hurdles.

Steve Hoffman, the chairman of the commission, told the Boston Globe that no local banks or credit unions are willing to provide financial services to marijuana businesses because they fear running afoul of federal laws that still consider pot an illegal drug. With pot sales scheduled to start July 1, Hoffman said the businesses may have to rely entirely on cash — a situation that is both inconvenient and dangerous.

Hoffman’s idea to sidestep federal banking oversight by opening a state-owned bank is not new. Elected officials in California are examining the idea from a legal and financial perspective with the goal of completing a report by the end of the year. And officials in Colorado and other states have also considered the idea. The administration of Gov. Charlie Baker, according to the Globe, was “cool” to the idea of a state bank catering to marijuana businesses.

A Massachusetts commission explored the possibility of opening a state-owned bank for economic development purposes in 2011 and concluded it was a bad idea. The primary concern was cost. The commission said the initial capital investment to open a state bank would be $3.6 billion.

A state-owned bank theoretically would operate like a private one, accepting deposits and issuing loans. Profits could be used to further public causes. The Bank of North Dakota, the only publicly owned bank in the country, funneled $85 million into various state government funds over the last four years.

A state bank would also sidestep a lot of federal regulation, a major concern for marijuana businesses. Deposits would be insured by the state rather than the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The bank would also be regulated by the state and not by federal bank examiners. But one major drawback of a state institution serving the cannabis industry is that it probably couldn’t gain access to the Federal Reserve system, which is needed for a bank to process checks, wire transfers, and electronic payments.

A state-regulated credit union in Colorado that wanted to serve the marijuana business was denied a Federal Reserve account in 2014. The credit union sued, but lost. It appealed the court ruling and earlier this month won the right to a Federal Reserve account but only if it agreed not to work with cannabis businesses.



The recent data breach in the state’s Department of Revenue was twice as large as originally disclosed. (Boston Globe)


Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia said a yes vote on a $58.5 million debt exclusion to help fund a new $263.5 million high school is a “no brainer.” (Herald News)

The Framingham City Council voted unanimously to declare two new hires by Mayor Yvonne Spicer “unauthorized,” which could result in the employees not being paid and setting up a power showdown between the two branches of the new city. (MetroWest Daily News)

Meanwhile, Framingham officials are forming a task force to consider regulations on short-term rental sites like Airbnb after a raucous party at a house rented through the service. (Boston Globe)

A controversial Barnstable County commissioner, who has come under fire for calling the #metoo movement “nonsense” and has filed numerous frivolous challenges, has refused to sign human resource documents concerning social media and sexual harassment policies that all 300 county employees sign. (Cape Cod Times)

Peabody paid $250,000 to settle a legal challenge brought by a 911 fire dispatcher who was fired after falling asleep and missing an emergency call. (Salem News)


US Sen. Marco Rubio takes heat at a forum with students, teachers, and parents angry about the killing of 17 people at a Florida high school. (Associated Press) In a meeting with President Trump, one father whose daughter was killed in the massacre asked, “How many children have to get shot?,” before changes are made in gun laws. (New York Times) A photo of a card Trump was holding with hand-written talking points went viral, including a reminder to be empathetic by saying “I hear you.” (Washington Post)

The day after Trump proposed a ban on bump stocks, the price of the after-market gun accessory soared, with one ad declaring “get them while you can, guys.” (Bloomberg)

Trump seems almost uniquely to have avoided paying any price for his transgressions amidst the #MeToo movement. (Boston Globe)


Shannon McAuliffe says she will be the “progressive change candidate” in the race to succeed Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley. (CommonWealth)

Former governor Bill Weld joins in a lawsuit challenging the state’s winner-take-all awarding of electoral votes in presidential elections. (Boston Herald)


Fish landings in New Bedford, long the nation’s top port in landings by total value, have slowed to a trickle since the conviction of Carlos Rafael, the so-called “Codfather,” and people in the industry in the Whaling City fear buyers may not return. (Standard-Times)

The state is having surprising difficulty drawing developer interest in two prime state-owned parcels in downtown Boston. (Boston Globe)


Phoenix Academy is pushing to open a new charter school in Lawrence that would serve students in Lawrence, Haverhill, and Methuen. If approved, Phoenix would shut down its existing in-district charter school serving just Lawrence students. (Eagle-Tribune) Phoenix serves hard-to-reach students, including those who have dropped out, been expelled, or are pregnant or parenting children of their own. (CommonWealth)

Springfield secures $12.5 million in philanthropic funding to open an early education center designed to help preschool children prep for school. (MassLive)

Massachusetts students lead the US in advanced placement exams. (Associated Press)

Taunton school officials are polling parents about a proposal to start high school classes later. (Taunton Gazette)

The Whitman-Hanson School Committee chose the high school’s principal, Jeffrey Szymaniak, to become the district’s next superintendent. (The Enterprise)

Atlantic Union College, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Lancaster, is shutting down for good after 140 years. (Lowell Sun)


The fired CEO of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will run a hospital in Homer, Alaska, though he’s still engaged in a legal fight over his ouster with the Vineyard hospital and its corporate parent, Partners HealthCare System. (Boston Globe)


A Red Line train derailed at Andrew Station Wednesday morning at 9:20 a.m. and severely disrupted the morning commute. Investigators are still trying to figure out what happened, but they were able to repair the track and resume normal operations at 5:21 p.m. (CommonWealth)

Jim Aloisi says the MBTA is failing before our very eyes and needs substantial new revenue to get the transit system on track. (CommonWealth)

Boston says it will extend a pilot study of higher-cost parking meter rates in high-demand areas of the city. (Boston Globe)


State officials are proposing to extend the bow-and-arrow deer hunting season by two weeks in eastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and the Islands, because the deer population in the region is beyond management goals. (Patriot Ledger)

An aerial survey of a breeding ground off Georgia resulted in more adult right whales sightings but no calves, an alarming development for the endangered species and the first time there have been no young whales spotted since the monitoring began in the 1980s. (Cape Cod Times)

A new report from MassPIRG makes the case for an electric car charging infrastructure. (State House News)


Public corruption cases are getting harder to prove. (Governing)

A 25-year-old Dennis man has been indicted on manslaughter charges for allegedly supplying the drugs taken by a friend who died of an overdose last March. (Cape Cod Times)


The Atlantic is expanding, planning to add 100 new staffers. (New York Times)

The Worcester Sun, an online and print news startup, shut down to address internal problems. Mark Henderson, the cofounder of the Sun and the former online director at the Telegram & Gazette, said the paper will return. (Telegram & Gazette)

Joan Vennochi says firing Tom Ashbrook from WBUR does nothing to change the enabling management culture at the station that backed him through years of complaints about his behavior. (Boston Globe)