Congress has a new petition to review: This one is from a bipartisan group of 18 attorneys general from states that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana and would like access to banking in the industry.
According to a TechCrunch report, because marijuana is still considered an illegal substance on the federal level, the banking industry has stayed away from the weed business because they fear criminal liability.
“The grey market makes it more difficult to track revenues for taxation purposes, contributes to a public safety threat as cash-intensive businesses are often targets for criminal activity, and prevents proper tracking of large swaths of finances across the nation,” the group of AGs wrote in the letter. “To address these challenges, we are requesting legislation that would provide a safe harbor for depository institutions that provide a financial product or service to a covered business in a state that has implemented laws and regulations that ensure accountability in the marijuana industry, such as the SAFE Banking Act (S. 1152 and H.R. 2215) or similar legislation. This would bring billions of dollars into the banking sector, and give law enforcement the ability to monitor these transactions.”
The industry has also hit roadblocks due to the Trump administration's tougher stance on marijuana. Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the Obama-era “Cole memo," which stated that while marijuana is illegal on the national level, federal prosecutors could deprioritize its enforcement of the issue and allow the individual states to handle it.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra noted that increased pressure on states where marijuana is legal also presents a significant obstacle to an industry that is generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.
“Congress has the power to protect a growing $6.7 billion industry and the public safety of our communities,” Becerra said in a statement. “My team at the Department of Justice is committed to implementing and enforcing the law in California in a way that most effectively protects the health and safety of our people.”