Governors of 24 US states and territories sent a letter to congressional leaders Thursday asking lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow financial institutions to provide banking services to the regulated cannabis industry. The message of the group of twenty bipartisan governors seeks to endorse safe and fair enforcement (Safe) Banking Law which was Approved by the House of Representatives in September as part of a comprehensive defense spending authorization bill.
In the letter, which was sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, and the governors of 21 states, Washington, D.C., the US Virgin Islands and Guam, they called for the provisions of the SAFE Banking Act to be included in the final version The National Defense Authorization Act for the 2022 fiscal year.
Relief for heavy money industry
If it is passed by the Senate and signed into law, federal bank regulators would be prohibited from penalizing banks that choose to service cannabis companies that do business in accordance with state law. Under current regulations, banks are subject to penalties under federal money laundering and other laws for servicing these companies, leaving the cannabis industry to operate in a risky, cash-filled environment. The legislation was initially introduced in the House of Representatives in 2013 by Representative Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, who reintroduced the bill in each subsequent session of Congress.
The letter sent Thursday, led by Democratic Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, notes that 37 states, four US territories and the District of Columbia have passed measures to legalize cannabis for recreational or medicinal purposes. But companies in the regulated cannabis industry are still largely unable to access traditional banking services including deposits, payroll and checking accounts.
“Sales of medical and recreational cannabis in the United States were estimated to total $17.5 billion last year, but due to outdated federal banking regulations, nearly all cannabis transactions are cash-based,” the governors wrote in their letter. “Not only are cash-reliant businesses the targets of crime, but the cannabis business is more disadvantaged compared to other legal businesses by not being able to open bank accounts or obtain affordable loans.”
The House passed the SAFE Banking Act in 2019 and again last year as part of a COVID-19 pandemic relief bill. the home The law passed again in April As stand-alone legislation this measure was included in the Defense Authorization Bill currently under consideration, but the bill has not yet been passed by both houses of Congress and has been signed into law by the President.
“It is time for Congress to allow cannabis-related companies to have better access to the banking system and operate with regular bank accounts,” Polis said in a Thursday news release. “Thanks to Congressman Ed Perlmutter who has consistently lobbied for legislation to address this important issue. After years of cannabis being legal in many states, it is long overdue for cannabis companies to finally work financially alongside other companies in the open national banking system.”
The governors also noted in the letter that while cannabis has been legalized in some form by the majority of US states, the continued lack of traditional banking and large amounts of cash throughout the supply chain leaves the legal marijuana business at an increased risk of theft and others. a crime. In addition, the lack of access to loans hinders the growth of the booming industry.
“The Safe Banking Amendment will remedy these harms and help preserve communities in our states and territories by allowing legitimate and legal cannabis companies access to banking services,” the letter continues. Financial institutions will subject funds and account holders to strict anti-money laundering and “know your customer” requirements that will help countries where cannabis is legal to keep bad actors out of the system.
The governors concluded that “SAFE has more bipartisan support than ever before, and Congress must take steps to ensure that this measure is included in the final version of the NDAA that goes to President Biden’s office.”
In addition to Polis, the letter to Congress was signed by the leaders of Alaska, California, Connecticut, Guam, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. , Rhode Island, US Virgin Islands, Utah, Virginia, Washington State, Washington DC, Wisconsin.
In April, a A bipartisan group of 21 rulers From a nearly identical list of states and territories, she called on Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act after the measure was approved by the House.