Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Banking for pot dispensaries

Customers shop for retail marijuana at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver, Thursday, May 8, 2014.
Customers shop for retail marijuana at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver, Thursday, May 8, 2014. AP

Assemblymen Tom Lackey, D-Palmdale, and Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, will join representatives from the Federal Reserve Board, the state treasurer’s office and others to talk about the big problem for legal pot operations: Banking.

Fiona Ma, a member of the state Board of Equalization, is hosting the meeting to talk about possible solutions for companies many banks still won’t service out of a fear of federal prosecution. Ma represents the northwestern part of the state, including Yolo County and the Bay Area.

She says the fact that dispensaries are paying sales tax in cash is a problem for her office.

“It’s dangerous for our employees ... we don’t have cash counters and safes to put it in, and armored cars to put it into,” Ma said.

Ma says she’s worried that problem will get worse if marijuana is legalized by any ballot measure. She’s not sure what the state can do, but she hopes a solution will be found.

“After studying this issue for the last six months, I really feel that the federal government is not moving or interested ... so I really feel like California needs to step up,” she said.

FUTURE MUSLIM LEADERS: 41 Muslim high schoolers are at the Capitol today for the Muslim Youth Leadership Program. The conference, sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, aims to teach leadership, community organizing and public speaking skills.

The kids finish with a mock session of the legislature on the Senate floor Saturday.

POKER PROS IN TOWN: Some big names in pro-poker, including Chris Moneymaker, Jason Somerville, and Liv Boeree are on tour to promote the legalization of online poker.

They stop in Sacramento at 10 a.m. this Sunday, at the Stones Gambling Hall, 6510 Antelope Rd, Citrus Heights.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, who is 71 today. Watch him extoll the virtues of the pastoral life last month. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins turns 53 Saturday.

Our database of state worker salaries now includes 2014 pay for University of California employees.

Andrew Holzman: 916-326-5545, @andrewlholzman