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Whitmer signs letter calling for passage of pot banking law

Ahead of possible action by the U.S. Congress, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is one of nearly two dozen governors pushing for legislation to reform marijuana banking laws.

Whitmer and a bipartisan group of governors sent a letter on Monday to leading lawmakers in Washington, D.C., urging passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would allow financial institutions to bank marijuana businesses, something currently prohibited by federal law.

“Michiganders voted overwhelmingly to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in 2018, and we must respect the will of the voters,” Whitmer said in a news release.

“Although legalization continues rolling on nationwide, we still have federal laws on the books that prohibit financial institutions from working with marijuana businesses legally under state law. To be blunt, legalization is great for the economy: it creates jobs and boosts tax revenue that can go towards our schools, communities, and first responders. This legislation ensures that Michigan’s marijuana businesses can grow and access the same resources that all legal businesses can.”

The SAFE Act was approved on a 321-101 bipartisan vote in the U.S. House on Monday evening.

Senators Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, and Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, introduced the Senate companion bill. It currently has 32 cosponsors, including six Republicans, but the measure will still require more support to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance in the chamber.

While marijuana has become increasingly legalized, both for medical and personal use, in a large number of states and U.S. territories, it’s still very much a cash business due to the lack of banking opportunities. That creates challenges for state and local governments, the governors write in their letter to lawmakers.

“Without banking services, state-licensed cannabis businesses are unable to write checks, make and receive electronic payments, utilize a payroll provider, or accept credit and debit cards,” reads the letter from the governors. “Cash only businesses pose a significant public safety risk to customers and employees. The cash-only environment also burdens state and local government agencies that must collect tax and fee payments in person and in cash, which creates additional public expenses and employee safety risks.

As Crain’s reported earlier this month, Fraser-based Live Life Federal Credit Union was given a cease and desist order for for failing to comply with reporting procedures for marijuana-related accounts, the first known federal crackdown on marijuana banking.


Posted By: Crain’s Detroit Business on April 19, 2021.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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