WASHINGTON, DC — A bipartisan coalition of state Attorneys General have issued a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to “advance legislation” to permit state-licensed marijuana businesses greater access to banking and other financial services.
The letter is undersigned by the Attorneys General of Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington, as well as from the District of Columbia and the US territory of Guam.
The letter states:
“Prior Department of Justice guidance outlined how financial institutions could provide services to state-licensed marijuana businesses consistent with their obligations under federal law and created some space for the banking industry to work with those businesses, though challenges remained in many areas. The recent rescission of that guidance has made the need for Congressional action to get the cash generated by this industry into a regulated banking sector even more urgent.”
“Our banking system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses in the various states, with state input, while protecting the interests of the federal government. This includes a banking system for marijuana-related businesses that is both responsive and effective in meeting the demands of our economy.”
According to data published recently by the US Treasury Department, there are only an estimated 400 financial institutions nationwide actively engaged with legal cannabis businesses. That total could decline following the administration’s decision to rescind various Obama-era memos specific to the federal enforcement of marijuana laws.
Currently, legislation is pending in both the US House and Senate (The SAFE Banking Act) to explicitly allow state-licensed marijuana-related businesses to partner with banks, credit unions, and other financial service providers.