Guam AG joins US attorneys seeking to allow banks to accommodate pot industry

HAGÅTÑA — Guam Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson has joined her counterparts in the U.S. who are urging Congress to provide a legal “safe harbor” for banks that provide service to the marijuana industry.

Barrett-Anderson joined co-sponsors Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine, and North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in a coalition of 19 attorneys general urging Congress to advance legislation allowing states with legalized medical or recreational marijuana (cannabis) to bring that commerce into the banking system. Banks and other depository institutions are currently hindered by federal law from providing financial services to marijuana businesses, even in states where those businesses are regulated.

“Banks and other depository institutions are currently hindered by federal law from providing financial services to cannabis businesses. This encourages a cash-only, grey market that hurts law enforcement and tax collections,” Chin said in a statement.

The attorneys general noted that 29 states and some U.S. territories have legalized the medical use of marijuana, with eight of them allowing 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,” the coalition’s letter states.

The attorneys general also note the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent decision to rescind rules that require state-licensed marijuana enterprises to operate their business consistent with federal law. They argue that the department’s decision has made even more urgent the need for congressional action to get the cash generated by this industry into a regulated banking sector.

The requested legislation would not only protect public safety by bringing gray-market financial activities into the banking sector and thus subject to law enforcement monitoring, but would also result in billions of dollars being infused into the banking industry, they said.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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