The Attorneys General of 38 states and territories sent a letter to Congress Wednesday urging passage of the SAFE Banking Act, a bill aimed at reforming banking regulations for institutions that handle marijuana-related accounts.
Though medical cannabis is legal in the majority of the country and recreational use has been decriminalized in 10 jurisdictions, marijuana possession is still a federal crime. This dichotomy has put businesses in the $8 billion industry, such as medical dispensaries and growers, in an awkward legal situation. Banks, fearful of federal reprisal, will often refuse to open accounts for cannabis-related businesses, or require them to transact exclusively in cash, as reported by NPR. The SAFE Banking Act and similar legislation aims to protect banks that supply services to the cannabis industry, while also reducing the need for “grey market” difficult to regulate cash transactions. The letter written by the Attorneys General highlights the need for this type of reform, stating that the current system “contributes to a public safety threat as cash-intensive businesses are often targets for criminal activity.”
The SAFE Banking Act currently is in committee at the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security for the US House of Representatives.