A public bank to serve ordinary citizens, marijuana industry

Supervisor Sandra Fewer last week revived the idea of creating a municipal bank by requesting the budget analyst to update a 2011 study on the idea, but on Tuesday Supervisor Malia Cohen took that effort a step further.

Cohen introduced a resolution calling on Tax Collector José Cisneros to convene a 15-member task force to study creating a municipal bank over a six-month period. Members would include those who work in the Treasurer’s Office, City Controller’s Office, Mayor’s Office of Housing and “an expert on cannabis banking and financing.”

“The Board of Supervisors believes that the long-term financial and social well-being of The City is contingent upon the ability to provide equitable and transparent financial opportunity for all its residents,” the resolution reads.

The effort builds on previous work by former Supervisor John Avalos, who was termed out of office in December.

The task force would explore creating a Municipal Public Bank as separate city department to perform such duties as manage the treasurer’s short-term investment portfolio, provide loans for small businesses and “underserved San Francisco residents,” and accept deposits “with special attention to the operational needs regarding financing for cannabis-related businesses.”

The idea of public banks has grown in popularity since the 2008 mortgage crisis and the effort has become more invigorated as a possible solution to banking for those in the cannabis industry who deal in cash since banks won’t do business with them while the drug remains illegal under federal law.

Read the whole story in the San Francisco Examiner

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