Guam’s attorney general is joining others in a coalition of 19 attorneys general urging Congress to advance legislation allowing states with legalized medical or recreational marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system. Banking institutions are currently hindered by federal law from providing financial services to marijuana businesses. In a letter to congressional leaders, they requested legislation that would provide a legal “safe harbor” for depository institutions that provide a financial product or service to a covered business in a state that regulates its marijuana industry.
“Twenty–nine states and several U.S. territories have legalized the medical use of marijuana. Among those, eight states and the District of Columbia also allow recreational use by adults over 21 years of age. However, because 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 letter states.
The request comes after the US Department of Justice rescinded guidance outlining how financial institutions could provide services to state–licensed marijuana businesses consistent with federal law. The attorneys general argue that only proves an urgent need for congressional action to get the cash generated by this industry into a regulated banking sector.