SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Treasurer David Damschen are calling on Congress to pass a bill that allows marijuana-related businesses to access the banking system.
In a letter signed by 34 state attorneys general, Reyes urged support of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act. In a statement to FOX 13, Reyes said it would help Utah’s newly up-and-running medical cannabis dispensaries.
“Utah worked hard to find a sensible, humane and balanced approach to medical marijuana policy. But current federal law prevents access to insured financial institutions for businesses in this industry. That creates significant practical and public safety issues for both the general public and for Utah businesses legally operating in the medical cannabis space,” he said.
The idea also has support of the Utah Banking Association.
“The inability of insured financial institutions to handle cannabis-related transactions has forced businesses and governments throughout the U.S. to resort to cash to settle transactions. This represents an enormous public safety issue, increasing risk of violent crime, fraud, and theft. Providing regulated and insured financial services to cannabis businesses allows law enforcement, and specifically the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) within the U.S. Department of Treasury, the transparency needed to distinguish legal cannabis businesses from illegal activity,” Damschen said in a statement.
Under federal law, banks and other financial institutions are prohibited from providing services to marijuana-related businesses. That’s led to “cash only” transactions at dispensaries. The SAFE Banking Act would allow them to direct deposit and use credit cards. The bill has bipartisan support and the letter signed by AG Reyes was also bipartisan.
As an aside, the letter pointed to the problems with cash-based cannabis transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply focused the need for legislative relief in three