Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with a bipartisan coalition of 38 Attorneys General, urged Congress to pass the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act to give licensed cannabis businesses access to the federal banking system.

“This is simple: not incorporating an $8.3 billion industry into our banking system is hurting our public safety and economy,” said Attorney General Becerra. “When it comes to the cannabis industry, California has made clear that it is moving forward and our nation should do the same. The SAFE Banking Act would reward taxpayers and small and local licensed businesses who play by the rules. We urge Congress to pass legislation to meet the demands of our growing economy.”

California along with 32 states and several U.S. territories have legalized the medical use of marijuana. However, because the federal government classifies cannabis as an illegal substance, banks providing services to state-licensed cannabis businesses can be subject to criminal and civil liability.

In their comment letter, the Attorneys General argue that under existing law, federal regulators are forcing legal businesses to operate as cash-only operations, which poses serious safety threats, creating targets for violent and white-collar crime. Additionally, law enforcement is less able to track potential financial crimes, and it is more difficult for businesses to pay—and for the state to collect—tax deposits. The SAFE Banking Act permits cannabis businesses to access the federal banking system.

In filing today’s letter Attorney General Becerra joined the Attorney Generals of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.