AG Reyes urges congress to allow marijuana related business to access the banking system

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 38 states and territorial attorneys general urging Congress to pass the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement, or SAFE, Banking Act or similar measures that would give legal marijuana-related businesses access to the federal banking system.

“I urge Congress to be proactive and face the reality that legislation is crucial to providing structure to a business that’s growing exponentially,” Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. “In Utah, we need to address the business side of our state’s medical marijuana law. The Utah Legislature, Governor Gary R. Herbert, and State Treasurer David Damschen are equally invested in seeking a solution to this reality. If we don’t act, there could be serious issues for both state government and our financial institutions. This is both a public safety and state’s rights issue.”

Under existing law, federal regulators prohibit financial institutions from providing services to marijuana businesses in states where medical or retail marijuana sales are legal. Forcing legal businesses to operate as cash-only operations pose serious safety threats, creating targets for violent and white-collar crime. The SAFE Banking Act permits marijuana-related businesses in states and territories with existing regulatory structures to access the federal banking system.

The SAFE Banking Act has widespread, bipartisan support with 172 cosponsors in the U.S. House. The House Financial Services Committee approved the bill in March and now it awaits a vote by the full House.

With the backing of 38 of the nation’s attorneys general, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has chosen to endorse the legislation as one of its official policy positions. Historically, NAAG endorses less than a dozen policies a year.

The coalition of states and territories includes Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.