Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford announced Wednesday he joined a bipartisan coalition that is urging Congress to pass legislation to give cannabis businesses access to the federal banking system.
Ford joins 37 other state and territorial attorneys general who are members of the National Association of Attorneys General. The organization is endorsing the legislation as an official policy position.
In March the U.S. House Financial Services Committee approved House Resolution 1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would give legal cannabis-related businesses access to the federal banking system.
The legislation has widespread, bipartisan support with 172 cosponsors in the House, including Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei and Democratic Reps. Steven Horsford, Susie Lee and Dina Titus. In March, the House Financial Services Committee approved the resolution which is now awaiting a vote by the full House. Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen are cosponsors of a similar bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate.
In 2017 Nevada legalized recreational marijuana use, however federal regulators prohibit financial institutions from providing services to licensed cannabis businesses. Due to cannabis’s classification as an illegal substance, banks could find themselves subject to criminal and civil liability under the federal Controlled Substances Act if they provide services to state-licensed cannabis businesses.
“Businesses are forced to operate on a cash basis,” reads the letter. “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 letter also seeks to assure congressional leaders that the resolution “in no way constitutes an endorsement of any state or territory’s specific approach to the legalization of marijuana-related transactions,” and “is in no way an endorsement for the legalization of medical or retail marijuana in those jurisdictions that choose not to pursue such an approach.”
“I have a strong interest in protecting public safety, and am proud to cosponsor this letter urging Congress to advance legislation that would allow states like Nevada that have legalized use of marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system,” said Ford in a statement. “As one of 33 states that has legalized the use of marijuana, this legislation would enable law enforcement, tax agencies and regulators to more effectively monitor local marijuana businesses and their transactions.”
Also signing the letter were attorneys general from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, the Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.