Nation’s Attorneys General, Treasurers Support and Urge Passage of SAFE Banking

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Washington, D.C., May 8, 2019 | comments
Washington, D.C. – Today, 38 state and territory attorneys general sent a letter to congressional leaders urging passage of H.R. 1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act which would allow marijuana-related businesses in states with existing regulatory structures to access the banking system. The overwhelming and bipartisan support on this issue means it brings with it the formal support of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). NAAG endorses less than a dozen policies a year and only does so when a measure has both bipartisan and supermajority support from the nation’s attorneys general.

Additionally, in a letter dated April 30, 2019, seventeen state treasurers from Maine to Hawaii request “legislation that would provide a safe harbor for depository institutions that provide a financial produce or service to a covered business in a state that has implemented laws and regulations that ensure accountability in the cannabis industry.”

“The SAFE Banking Act is about public safety, accountability and respecting states’ rights,” said Perlmutter. “I appreciate the overwhelming support of the state attorneys general and state treasurers. Their endorsement of the SAFE Banking Act underscores the need to respect states’ rights on this issue and make our communities safer by allowing the marijuana industry and related businesses access to the banking system.”

Today, voters in 47 states plus the District of Columbia - 97.7 percent of the population – have legalized some form of adult recreational and medical marijuana, including cannabidiol. Yet cannabis is currently considered illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act therefore financial institutions providing banking services to legitimate and licensed marijuana businesses are subject to criminal prosecution. Since state and federal law are not aligned on the issue, legal and legitimate businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis creating a serious public safety risk for employees, businesses and communities, as well as providing an opportunity for tax evasion, money laundering and other white-collar crimes.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser led the call for action and 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. Click here to view the full state attorneys general letter.

Oregon’s Treasurer Tobias Read spearheaded the treasurer letter and was joined by the following state treasurers: Washington Treasurer Duane Davidson; Maine Treasurer Henry Beck; Hawaii Treasurer Roderick Becker; Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine; Utah Treasurer David Damschen; New Mexico Treasurer Tim Eichenberg; Michigan Treasurer Rachael Eubanks; Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs; Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg; Maryland Treasurer Nancy Kopp; Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner; New Jersey Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio; West Virginia Treasurer John Perdue; Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague; Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella; and Colorado Treasurer Dave Young. Click here to view the full state treasurers letter.

The SAFE Banking Act of 2019 is authored by U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-07) and Denny Heck (D-WA-10) and cosponsored by Reps. Warren Davidson (R-OH-08) and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15). A draft version of the bill was discussed during the first-ever congressional hearing about cannabis banking on February 13, 2019. Following the hearing, the SAFE Banking Act passed the House Financial Services Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support in a 45-15 vote. Currently, the SAFE Banking Act has bipartisan support in Congress with 175 cosponsors and broad industry support ranging from financial services and law enforcement to insurance and real estate.

Organizational support includes: Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA), America Bankers Association (ABA), Mid-size Bank Coalition of America (MBCA), Electronic Transaction Association (ETA), Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), The Real Estate Roundtable (RER), Safe and Responsible Banking Alliance (SARBA), American Land Title Association (ALTA), American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB), Reinsurance Association of America (RAA), Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (Big “I”), Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA), Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), 18 State Banking Supervisors, Brinks, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR), Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), and the Cannabis Trade Federation (CTF).

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