NJ Attorney General Joins Colleagues in Letter on Cannabis Banking Reform

NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal joined a bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general to urged Congress to pass the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1595) to give licensed cannabis businesses access to the federal banking system.

The bipartisan legislation has 178 cosponsors including seven from New Jersey, Rep’s Donald Norcross (D-1), Jeff Van Drew (D-2), Tom Malinowski (D-7), Albio Sires (D-8), Bill Pascrell (D-9), Mikie Sherrill (D-11) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12). The measure has passed the House Financial Services Committee and is pending consideration by the House Judiciary Committee’s sub-committee on crime, terrorism and homeland security.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) joined a group of his Senate Banking Committee colleagues in introducing the Senate’s version of the bill (S.1200).

Most states and several U.S. territories have legalized medical marijuana, and 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult recreational use. But federal law still considers marijuana illegal, which exposes credit unions and banks to legal risk if they handle marijuana-related money or transactions.

The attorneys general argue in their letter 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 states to collect, associated taxes. The SAFE Banking Act would permit cannabis businesses to access the federal banking system and move them out of a financial gray area and into the regulated banking sector.