SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 34 attorneys general, urged the U.S. Congress to include legislation that provides licensed cannabis businesses access to the federal banking system as part of any future coronavirus relief package. In their letter, the coalition highlights that passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act or similar legislation would provide much-needed revenue to state and local governments through more efficient tax collection.
“The continued exclusion of the licensed cannabis industry from the federal banking system is untenable – and unwise,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The coronavirus crisis has only exacerbated the economic and investigatory challenges that arise from keeping a $15 billion industry in the shadows. Congress should move swiftly to pass this commonsense legislation and provide relief to the many local cannabis businesses that are playing by the rules."
In the letter, the bipartisan coalition argues that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need to provide licensed cannabis businesses with access to the federal banking system. The coalition points out that the ability to efficiently collect tax revenue from the cannabis industry, estimated to have generated $15 billion in sales in 2019, would provide critical relief for state and local governments predicting budget shortfalls due to the pandemic. Additionally, cash intensive businesses are often a target of criminal activity, with threats to public safety only intensifying since the coronavirus pandemic began. The large presence of cash transactions also places law enforcement, tax regulators, consumers, and patients at heightened risk of exposure to the virus.
On May 8, 2019, Attorney General Becerra, as part of a coalition of 38 attorneys general, sent a letter to Congress urging passage of the SAFE Banking Act, or similar legislation, in order to incorporate licensed cannabis businesses into the economy in states with robust regulatory controls that ensure accountability in the cannabis industry.
Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, in sending the letter to Congress.
A copy of the letter can be found here.