Governors Requesting Congress to Pass Cannabis Banking Refom Through Defense Bill

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Two dozen U.S. Governors have come together to sign a letter urging for an expedited process for federal cannabis legalization. The signees are asking congressional leaders to push the marijuana banking reform through large-scale defense legislation.

Details of Letter

Earlier this week, Governors from around the country have signed and sent a letter to top lawmakers in the House and Senate. The group suggests that the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act be attached to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Considering the latter will likely pass first, advocates hope this is the fastest path towards legalization.

“Not only are cash-only businesses targets for crime, but cannabis businesses are also further disadvantaged compared to other legal businesses by being unable to open bank accounts or obtain loans at reasonable rates,” the letter states. “The cannabis industry is legal in some form in the majority of U.S. states, and it is too large of a market to be prohibited from banking opportunities.”

“The SAFE Banking Amendment will remedy these harms and help keep communities in our states and territories safe by allowing legitimate and legal cannabis companies to access banking services. Financial institutions will subject the funds and account holders to rigorous anti-money laundering and “Know Your Customer” requirements that will further help states where cannabis has been made legal to keep bad actors out of the system. The SAFE Banking Amendment will also harmonize federal and state law to ensure that depository institutions that provide banking services to legitimate cannabis-related businesses and ancillary businesses are not penalized.”

The letter states the SAFE Banking Act “will allow cannabis businesses to access normal banking services, which will transition fully cash-based cannabis transactions into the financial system where they belong.”

Governors Involved

Led by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), this letter included 22 other states and territories, including Washington D.C’s mayor. Here are the other signatories to the letter:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Guam
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Utah,
  • Virginia
  • Washington State
  • Wisconsin

This is significant for several reasons. Primarily because it shows a large group of Governors believe cannabis has reached a tipping point for legalization. So far, Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational adult use of marijuana. A voter-approved measure in a 19th state, South Dakota, is undergoing a court challenge. More than two-thirds of states allow medical marijuana. According to the letter, medical and recreational cannabis sales in the U.S. generated a total of $17.5 billion last year. Here are what other Governor’s had to say regarding the issue.

“Simply put, this is a public safety issue that Congress has a responsibility to address. The SAFE Banking Act has now passed the U.S. House of Representatives five times but the Senate has never voted on the measure,” the governors wrote.

“It’s time for Congress to allow cannabis-related businesses to have better access to the banking system and operate with normal bank accounts,” Polis, the Colorado governor, said in a press release. “After years of cannabis being legal in a multitude of states, it is long overdue for cannabis businesses to finally financially operate alongside other businesses in the open national banking system.”

You can read the full letter here: governors-marijuana-banking-letter

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