PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission sent a letter to each of Oregon’s congressional representatives calling for the urgent need to take away federal barriers that prevent legal cannabis businesses from acquiring banking services.

According to an announcement by OLCC, outdated federal barriers to banking continue to severely impact the legal cannabis industry in Oregon and nationwide.

The problem isn’t just about the convenience of engaging in daily banking transactions, added the commission, but the direct safety issue of cannabis businesses being known for having large amounts of cash.

The group is looking to regulators for support and action.

“While cannabis may be legal in Oregon, criminal enterprises are very aware of this impediment and target cannabis businesses,” said the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission in the announcement. “Workers have been threatened at gunpoint, assaulted and tragically even killed. Business owners find themselves upgrading their security systems and replacing smashed windows. Product is often also stolen or destroyed which reduces the ability of these businesses to be successful and threatens the industries’ viability.”

OLCC Chair Paul Rosenbaum said cannabis banking should be a priority.

“This is certainly an achievable policy step that will save lives – now,” Rosenbaum said.

Cannabis industry leaders and regulators have repeatedly called for reform, continued the press release. According to OLCC, the Oregon Legislature has led the way by working with in-state credit unions to provide some financial services.

“However, those services are limited, and come with large fees as these credit unions are subject to robust reporting requirements. Larger financial players and more options would provide tremendous relief to the industry,” noted the commission.

OLCC says Oregon regulators have called for focused legislation that would directly provide relief to these businesses while acknowledging the difficulty of the complete legalization of cannabis.

While Congress has considered changes previously, it now seems unlikely that change will occur this year, added the announcement.

In the letter sent to representatives by OLCC, Rosenbaum closed the letter by saying, “Legitimate cannabis businesses, licensed by the State of Oregon, under state law, should no longer be denied access to the banking system of our country, as if they are not part of the fabric of our union.”

You can view the full letter here on OLCC’s website.