May 19, 2020
City, NV –
Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a bipartisan coalition of 34
state and territorial attorneys general urging Congress to pass the federal
Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1595), which would give
legal marijuana-related businesses access to the federal banking system. On May
8, 2019, AG Ford cosponsored a similar letter to Congressional leadership.
Today’s letter is a renewed effort by AG Ford and attorneys general across the
country urging Congress to advance these same goals as part of any future
COVID-19 relief package.
The SAFE Banking Act has widespread,
bipartisan support with 206 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The House passed the bill in September 2019. The HEROES Act relief legislation,
which the House approved last week, also included the language of the SAFE
“As one of the states that has legalized
the use of marijuana, this legislation would help law enforcement, tax agencies
and regulators monitor local marijuana businesses and transactions,” said AG
Ford. “I’m proud to redouble my efforts with Congress to pass this
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 poses 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.
In their letter, the attorneys general
note that the COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on problems that the SAFE
Banking Act is intended to remediate. Since the pandemic began, threats to
public safety caused by a cash-intensive business model have intensified. The
presence of large cash transactions places law enforcement, tax regulators,
consumers and patients at heightened risk of exposure to the virus. And
finally, the marijuana industry is estimated to have generated $15 billion in
sales in 2019 and will provide critical relief in the form of tax revenue for
state and local governments predicting budget shortfalls due to the pandemic.
In addition to Nevada, other states and
territories participating in this letter include: Alaska, Arkansas, California,
Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois,
Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, 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.
The full text of the
letter can be read here.