The STATES Act Would Increase Public Safety by Allowing Cannabis-Related Businesses to Access the Banking System Without Fear or Prosecution
September 23, 2019
Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford led a bipartisan coalition of 21 attorneys general urging Congress to pass the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act” or similar measures to allow legal cannabis-related businesses access to 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 (H.R. 2093; S. 1028) 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.
“Defending states’ rights, protecting public safety and improving our criminal justice system are priorities for my administration,” said AG Ford. “I believe each state knows its industry and needs best, and I urge Congress to pass legislation that will allow Nevada and other states to determine the best approach for regulating cannabis within their borders.”
In a letter to congressional leaders, the attorneys general explain how a majority of Americans are affected by this issue. 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 to $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 Nevada AG Aaron D. Ford, District of Columbia AG Karl Racine and New York AG Letitia James. Other participating states include: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.