38 attorneys general ask Congress to advance marijuana bill

38 attorneys general ask Congress to advance marijuana bill

Bipartisan attorneys general from 38 states and territories sent a letter Wednesday urging Congress to pass legislation to allow banks to work with marijuana businesses legal under state law. 

The House Financial Services Committee in March sent The SAFE Banking Act the full House, where it has since stalled. It currently has 153 Democratic sponsors and 20 Republican sponsors.

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Federal law prevents banks from servicing marijuana businesses despite 10 states and the District of Columbia legalizing the drug and another 33 states allowing possession for medical uses.

“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, noting that they were not endorsing any individual state’s marijuana policy.

“An effective safe harbor would bring billions of dollars into the banking sector, enabling law enforcement; federal, state and local tax agencies; and cannabis regulators in 33 states and several territories to more effectively monitor cannabis businesses and their transactions. Compliance with tax laws and requirements would be simpler and easier to enforce with the regulated tracking of funds in the banking system, resulting in higher tax revenues.” 

The marijuana industry has continued to boom since legalization efforts began making headway in states, with the attorneys general citing a 2017 analysis that businesses raked in $8.3 in sales that year and that the figure could exceed $25 billion by 2025.

Republicans who believe Congress is moving too fast on the issue and from liberal activists who seek more expansive action on federal marijuana legalization have criticized the legislation.