20 Bipartisan Governors Urge Congress To Pass Marijuana Banking Bill

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Washington, D.C.-, June 14, 2019 | comments

Governors from 18 states and two U.S. territories are calling on Congress to pass a bipartisan marijuana banking bill.

In a letter sent to congressional leaders on Thursday, the governors said a legislative fix was needed to “remove the legal uncertainty for banks and credit unions, reducing their risk, enhancing public safety, and increasing financial transparency.”

They also applauded the House Financial Services Committee for approving the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in March and encouraged the full chamber to advance it. A House floor vote is expected in coming weeks after the Judiciary Committee discharged the legislation without a report earlier this month.

“State and federal governments have a shared interest in upholding the rule of law, protecting public safety, and transitioning markets out of the shadows and into our transparent and regulated banking system,” they wrote. “Without access to banking services, state-licensed cannabis businesses operate predominantly on a cash basis.”

“Despite legalization of cannabis at the state-level—in many cases to provide medical treatment—our financial institutions face enormous barriers, legal risks, and criminal and civil liability under the Controlled Substances Act that prevent them from providing banking services to state-licensed businesses. As a result, very few banks and credit unions will provide these services, leaving many businesses in this sector unbanked.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) led the letter. The bipartisan group of signatories also includes the governors of Colorado, Connecticut, Guam, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The coalition of governors is the latest group to join hands in support of the banking legislation.

Banking associations representing all 50 statesthe National Association of Attorneys Generaland the National Association of State Treasurers have all urged Congress to approve the bill in recent weeks.

“Many of our states have implemented laws and regulations that ensure accountability of the cannabis industry,” the governors wrote in the new letter. “However, without banking services, cannabis businesses are less able to obey the law, pay taxes, and follow these important regulations. The public safety risks posed by these cash-only businesses can be mitigated through access to banking service providers.”

Banks would have some protections under a provision that was included in a large-scaled spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee this week. But the SAFE Act is more comprehensive, and a Congressional Budget Office score of that legislation showed that the federal government stands to save millions of dollars if it’s enacted.

Earlier this month a group of 12 governors sent a separate letter urging Congress to pass more comprehensive legislation to let states legalize marijuana without federal interference.

Content originally published by Marijuana Moment on June 14, 2019.
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