US House passes bill giving pot businesses access to banking

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would grant legal marijuana businesses access to banking, a measure that would clear up a longstanding headache for the industry.

The bill passed 321-103 on the strength of near-unanimous support from Democrats. Republicans split on it.

Thirty-three states have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use, but the federal prohibition on the drug has made it difficult for businesses to get bank accounts, loans and other financial services.

Many have relied on cash, making them potential robbery targets.

Supporters of the banking bill, including Democratic Reps. Denny Heck of Washington and Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, characterized it as a public safety measure.

Its prospects in the Senate are uncertain, but supporters said the amount of Republican support in the House was a good sign.