By Sabrina Eaton

Legislation that would let cannabis companies access the banking system got its first-ever Senate hearing on Thursday.

Although marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized in many states, legal cannabis businesses’ inability to access the banking system forces many to “operate in the shadows,” observed Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee Chair Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat.

The fact that many marijuana businesses must keep their assets in cash because they’re unbanked can make it harder to combat money laundering and “puts a robbery target on the backs” of cannabis industry workers, said Brown.

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