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Perlmutter, House co-sponsors push Senate for swift action on marijuana banking bill

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and three other congressmen who’ve been pushing to give cannabis businesses access to banking services expressed hope Tuesday their bill would move through the Senate soon.

In a letter sent to Mike Crapo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, the Arvada Democrat and Reps. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, Denny Heck, D-Wash., and Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, addressed the chairman’s concerns about the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act while urging him to take swift action.

In his comments published Dec. 18, Crapo recommended adding public health and safety requirements to the legislation, such as requiring potency disclosures and a potential 2% THC limit on products before allowing banks to do business with cannabis companies, and rules for preventing “bad actors” from laundering money through banks.

The representatives were hesitant to expand the scope of the bill, stating “we should exercise caution before adding limitations on the legislation’s safe harbor that impose unworkable burdens on financial institutions.”

“Our bill is about public safety,” the congressmen wrote. “It does not change the legal status of marijuana and is focused solely on taking cash off the streets and aligning federal banking laws with the decisions states are already making regarding cannabis.”

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and others from the National Association of Attorneys General echoed that sentiment in a separate letter to the Senate sent Wednesday, stating “our banking system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses in the various states and territories… while protecting the interests of the federal government.”

Burglaries of cannabis dispensaries and grow operations in Denver hit a three-year high in 2019. Many in the industry believe criminals target these businesses because they are forced to deal in cash.