Attorney General Voices Support for SAFE Banking

A second coronavirus relief package proposed by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives would expand banking access to approved cannabis businesses in marijuana legal states. Republicans have pegged the provision as a non-starter. But 34 attorneys general, including California’s Xavier Becerra, say its more important than ever.

You can read their May letter to congressional leaders here. It states:

The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply focused the need for legislative relief in three key respects. First, threats to public safety caused by a cash-intensive business model, often the target of criminal activity, have intensified in the months since the pandemic began. Next, the presence of large cash transactions places law enforcement, tax regulators, consumers, and patients at heightened risk of exposure to the virus. Finally, the ability to efficiently collect tax revenue from the marijuana industry, estimated to have generated $15 billion in sales in 2019, will provide critical relief for state and local governments predicting budget shortfalls due to the pandemic.

The current predicament of a rapidly expanding national marketplace without access to the national banking systems has resulted in an untenable situation. We stress that current legislative models are available to fix this situation. In advancing these legislative goals, Congress is not necessarily endorsing any state or territory’s legalization of marijuana-related transactions; similarly, the enactment of the SAFE Banking Act is not a call for the legalization of medical or retail marijuana in those jurisdictions that choose not to pursue such an approach. Rather, it reflects a recognition of the realities on the ground and an embrace of our federalist system of government that is flexible enough to accommodate divergent state approaches.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) acknowledged a second coronavirus relief package was probably necessary, but said it would be narrower in scope than the first. 

Read more at the Orange County Register