Chicago —(ENEWSPF)—January 18, 2018
By: Rosemary Piser
Attorney General Lisa Madigan this week has joined a coalition of 19 Attorneys General urging Congress to advance legislation that would allow states with legalized medical or recreational marijuana to participate in the banking system. Banks and other depository institutions are currently banned by federal law from providing financial services to marijuana businesses, even in states where those businesses are regulated.
The letter, sent to Congressional leaders, calls for legislation that would provide a legal “safe harbor” for depository institutions that provide financial services to covered businesses in a state that regulates its marijuana industry.
The letter states in pertinent part:
“Twenty-nine states and several U.S. territories have legalized the medical use of marijuana. Among those, eight states and the District of Columbia also allow recreational use by adults over 21 years of age. However, because the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal substance, banks providing services to state-licensed cannabis businesses could find themselves subject to criminal and civil liability under the Controlled Substances Act and certain federal banking statutes.”
Madigan and the Attorneys General also cited a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to rescind guidance outlining how financial institutions can provide services to state-licensed marijuana businesses consistent with federal law. The Attorneys General argued that this recission has made the need for congressional action even more important to move this industry into a regulated banking sector.
According to the Attorneys General legislation in this area would protect public safety by bringing these financial activities into the banking sector and subjecting the industry to law enforcement monitoring.
Joining Attorney General Madigan in signing the letter were the Attorneys General from: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington.