Bennett, Hickenlooper among senators criticizing congressional leadership on pot banking

A group of United States senators sent a letter to congressional leaders reiterating their desire to legalize banking services for marijuana businesses.

Due to federal marijuana prohibition, dispensaries, growers, and other marijuana-related businesses are prohibited from financial services, putting the institutions that serve those businesses at risk of federal drug charges. Although some smaller banks and credit unions will take that risk for high fees, most legal marijuana transactions still take place in cash and create a target for crime, according to the 24 senators who signed the letter.

“Allowing cannabis businesses that operate legally and in accordance with state law to access financial services without federal retaliation would address public safety and compliance challenges, helping communities reduce cash-motivated crime. The organizations Law enforcement officials have publicly testified before Congress about these cash-related security risks, including theft, robbery, and serious violence perpetrated against employees responsible for conducting what should be routine business operations,” the letter says. .

According to an annual report on the impact of marijuana compiled by the Denver Department of Excise and Licensing, robberies associated with commercial marijuana increased from 122 in 2019 to 175 in 2020. Although they represent less than 1 percent of all businesses in Denver, marijuana businesses accounted for 8.6 percent of all reported business robberies in 2020, the department noted.

In their letter to congressional leaders on May 12, nineteen Democratic and five Republican senators ask Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Leader House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to keep language that would allow marijuana banking in the America COMPETES Act, a federal funding bill for supply chain and manufacturing stimulation.

Among those who signed the letter were Colorado Senators Michael Bennett and John Hickenlooper, who sent a similar letter to senior members of Senate committees last November calling for marijuana banking language to be added to the National Defense Authorization.

Initially introduced by Representative Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, the Safe and Fair Banking (SAFE) Act would allow banks to offer state-legal commercial marijuana loans, lines of credit, checking accounts and other traditional financial services. The bill has passed the House as stand-alone legislation or as an amendment to other budget bills since 2019, including the most recent version of the America COMPETES Act. However, an increased push for federal legalization and social reparations from the war on drugs has kept the SAFE Banking Act on the sidelines in the Senate.

“The House has now passed the SAFE Banking Act six times, including most recently as an amendment to your version of the bipartisan competition bill, and we ask you to ensure that the text of that amendment remains in the final version.” of the conference of the bill to be considered by both the House and the Senate,” says the new letter from the senators.

At a committee conference of House and Senate members of the America COMPETES Act on May 12, several senators and representatives expressed their desire to include marijuana banking in the Senate version, including Hickenlooper and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

“From helping STEM PhDs get visas so they can stay here in America after school, to modernizing our banking laws so the cannabis industry doesn’t operate in the dark of cash, our economy needs support and help. let’s deal with this moment as it has in the past and as it can again today,” Hickenlooper said.

Despite vocal support for the SAFE Banking Act, Schumer and other senior senators have consistently rejected the idea of ​​allowing marijuana banking before federal legalization and social reparations are implemented.

As Perlmutter nears the end of his time as a representative from Colorado District 7, the passage of the SAFE Banking Act, a legislative effort he has owned for nearly ten years, has become increasingly important. His office says that he is still looking for ways to include the bill in the UNITED STATES COMPETITION LAW.

“The #SAFEBankingAct has broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. It hits the Goldilocks sweet spot,” read a recent post on Perlmutter’s Twitter account. “Let’s make it happen.”

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