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State attorneys general, led by Colorado, seek new law to allow banking for marijuana businesses

May 8, 2019, 12:17 pm

The Colorado attorney general’s office put out a press release Wednesday highlighting its active involvement in a national push to get Congress to pass legislation authorizing marijuana businesses to access the federal banking system.

Phil Weiser
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser

Despite a wave of state laws legalizing both recreational and medicinal marijuana consumption, businesses catering to those consumers can’t use traditional banking services because the federal government still has not legalized marijuana.

Here’s the press release from Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office:

Attorney General Weiser Leads Bipartisan Coalition of State AGs Urging Congress to Let Marijuana-Related Businesses Access Banking System

May 8, 2019 (DENVER, Colo.) — Led by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, a bipartisan coalition of 38 state and territorial attorneys general have called on Congress to pass federal legislation that would authorize marijuana-related businesses to access the federal banking system. Because of this widespread support, the bipartisan National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has adopted this position as official policy, an unprecedented show of support for common-sense marijuana banking rules.

The legislation, H.R. 1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), permits marijuana-related businesses in states and territories with existing regulatory structures to access the federal banking system.

“I am proud that Colorado is at the forefront in calling on our federal government to provide legitimate marijuana businesses with access the banking system. For too long, the status quo has pushed legitimate businesses outside the banking system and into cash-dependent models, creating a lucrative target for violent and white-collar crime. This is a public safety issue. We are especially heartened that Colorado’s view is now the official policy of the National Associations of Attorneys General, an unprecedented milestone,” Weiser said. “The message from the states’ top law enforcement offices is loud, clear, and bipartisan: Congress must act to allow legitimate marijuana businesses access banking services.”

Historically, NAAG endorses less than a dozen policies a year, only doing so when a measure has both bipartisan and supermajority support from the nation’s attorneys general. Weiser’s call, joined by 38 attorneys general, is just the fourth policy NAAG has backed this year.

In addition to Rep. Perlmutter, the SAFE Act is co-sponsored by 172 Members of Congress, including both Democratic and Republican members. The Act’s full text is available here.

Joining Weiser in leading the letter were Attorneys General Karl Racine (D-DC), Wayne Stenehjem (R-ND), and Aaron Ford (D-NV).

In addition to Colorado, the call for action was joined by the attorneys general of the following states and territories:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A full copy of the call for action is available here

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