State attorneys general urge Congress to pass marijuana banking bill

The majority of top law enforcement officials are calling on lawmakers to allow legal cannabis businesses to use banking services.

Attorneys general from 38 U.S. states and territories on Wednesday sent a letter to Congress in support of a bill to open federal bank access to the legal marijuana industry, reports Forbes.

“Businesses are forced to operate on a cash basis. The resulting grey market makes it more difficult to track revenues for taxation and regulatory compliance purposes, contributes to a public safety threat as cash-intensive businesses are often targets for criminal activity, and prevents proper tracking of billions in finances across the nation,” the attorneys general wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.

Although some form of cannabis sales are allowed in over 30 states, legal businesses are not allowed to use federal banks since marijuana remains illegal by the federal government. This problem has forced legitimate businesses to consider using illegal practices such as money laundering.

The pending bill would allow cannabis businesses to access loans, lines of credit and other banking services, while protecting financial institutions from prosecution for handling their money.

The legislation, known as the SAFE Banking Act, is sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and now has 173 cosponsors—substantially more than a third of the entire chamber’s membership.

“This is simple: not incorporating an $8.3 billion industry into our banking system is hurting our public safety and economy,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to the AP.

The SAFE Banking Act is expected to be considered on the House floor within the next several weeks.

Oscar Pascual is the editor of Smell the Truth, syndicated on GreenState and SFGATE. Smell The Truth is one of the internet’s most popular destinations for cannabis-related news and culture. This blog is not written or edited by Hearst. The authors are solely responsible for the content.