Thursday, May 23, 2019

38 US A-G's endorse SAFE Banking Act

Majority Of State Attorneys General Tell Congress To Pass Marijuana Banking Bill - Tom Angell, Forbes:

May 8, 2019 - "The top law enforcement officials from 38 U.S. states and territories are calling on Congress to pass legislation to increase marijuana businesses' access to banks. The move comes just days after the treasurers of 17 states issued a separate call in support of the pending cannabis financial services bill.

"Even as a growing number of states adopt laws to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, federal prohibition remains intact — for now — and ... banks ... could, they fear, be prosecuted under federal money laundering laws. Legislation to shield financial services providers from being punished by regulators for working with the cannabis industry has been gaining momentum in Congress, and now the effort is getting a boost from the National Association of Attorneys General, which is officially endorsing the bill.

"'Businesses are forced to operate on a cash basis. The resulting grey market makes it more difficult to track revenues for taxation and regulatory compliance purposes, contributes to a public safety threat as cash-intensive businesses are often targets for criminal activity, and prevents proper tracking of billions in finances across the nation,' the attorneys general wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.... '[R]regardless of how individual policymakers feel about states permitting the use of medical or recreational marijuana, the reality of the situation requires federal rules that permit a sensible banking regime for legal businesses'....

"In March, the House Financial Services Committee approved the marijuana banking bill in a bipartisan vote of 45 to 15. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), now has 173 cosponsors — substantially more than a third of the entire chamber's membership. It is expected to be considered on the House floor within the next several weeks.

"An identical companion bill on financial services for cannabis businesses in the Senate has 25 lawmakers signed on — fully a quarter of the body. Despite the advancement of the cannabis banking bill in the House, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) refused to commit to hold a hearing or vote on the bill in his panel when asked last month.

"The proposals have already been endorsed by the American Bankers Association and a number of other organizations representing financial services industry interests, as well as by drug policy reform groups....

"The treasurers, in their letter, offered further encouragement.... 'Without banking services, cannabis businesses are less able to obey the law, pay taxes, and follow state regulations of the industry,' they wrote. 'The public safety risks posed by these businesses are easily mitigated through access to banking service providers and keeping the cash off the streets. Nearly every U.S. state has a stake in this issue.'"

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