Attorney General James To Congress: Pass Cannabis Banking Bill

Attorney General James to Congress: Pass Cannabis Banking Bill

The STATES Act Would Increase Public Safety by Allowing Cannabis-Related Businesses to Access the Banking System without Fear of Prosecution

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today led a bipartisan coalition of 21 attorneys general urging Congress to pass the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act” (H.R. 2093; S. 1028) or similar measures that would allow legal cannabis-related businesses to access the banking system. Current federal banking laws, which reflect the federal status of marijuana as an illegal drug, force legitimate cannabis companies nationwide to operate mainly in cash. The STATES Act would bring billions of dollars of existing cash transactions into the regulated banking sector, subject them to oversight, and reduce the risk of both violent and white-collar crime affecting the growing marijuana industry.

“As the marketplace for legal cannabis-related business evolves, federal regulations governing the banking system must keep pace,” Attorney General James said. “It’s not only commonsense to fold a growing multi-billion-dollar industry under the regulated banking sector, but it’s also a matter of public safety. With such widespread, bipartisan support, there is no reason this bill shouldn’t pass without delay.”

The legal cannabis industry in 33 states and several U.S. territories employs hundreds of thousands of Americans nationwide and is expected to generate revenue between $50 billion and $80 billion over the next 10 years. Current federal law prevents banks from providing services to these state-regulated businesses, which forces them to operate almost entirely in cash and poses serious safety threats. In 2016, a Marine Corps veteran who worked as a security guard at a dispensary in Colorado was murdered during an attempted robbery. In 2018, thieves robbed a cannabis-infused product company in California, destroying computers, trucks, and safes before making off with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. The STATES Act would permit cannabis-related businesses in states and territories with existing regulatory structures to access the federal banking system and deter criminal activity.

The STATES Act has widespread, bipartisan support with 60 cosponsors in the U.S. House and 10 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate.

The coalition of states and territories was led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, and joined by Attorneys General from Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.