Senators Cantwell, Murray Join Bipartisan Group of Senators to Urge Federal Agency to Stay the Course on Cannabis Banking, Provide Certainty to Businesses and Consumers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues to urge the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at the Department of the Treasury to keep in place its 2014 guidance that has enabled some financial institutions to provide banking services for legitimate cannabis businesses in states, like Washington, that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.
“We urge FinCEN to preserve this guidance to continue to support banking infrastructure and access to financial institutions for businesses that are operating in accordance with state and local law and abiding by 8 other stated factors in your guidance,” the senators wrote. “FinCEN’s stated priorities have allowed such businesses to conduct commerce more safely through financial institutions which reduces the use of all cash, improves public safety, and reduces fraud…. This guidance must remain intact because the risks involved in removing it are too great.”
The Senators’ letter follows Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ attack earlier this month on states’ rights to set their own cannabis laws, as well as the will of the voters who passed these laws. The Sessions decision throws into chaos years of work to create a safer, more stable market, and threatens to drive cannabis sales back underground into the dangerous black market.
In Washington state, 12 financial institutions currently do business with licensed cannabis enterprises, providing them with access to credit and bank accounts. Because the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board no longer permits marijuana businesses to pay their taxes in cash, FinCEN’s guidance has been crucial to the growth of Washington’s marijuana industry, which is projected to contribute $730 million to the state’s revenues over the next two years.
Today’s letter to FinCEN Director Kenneth Blanco was also signed by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Rand Paul (R-KY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).
The full text of the letter is available below and HERE:
January 18, 2018
The Honorable Kenneth A. Blanco
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220
We are writing to express our continuing support for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance from 2014 on the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) Expectations Regarding Marijuana-Related Businesses. This guidance was developed and issued in conjunction with the Department of Justice and has provided much needed stability to a growing market.
We urge FinCEN to preserve this guidance to continue to support banking infrastructure and access to financial institutions for businesses that are operating in accordance with state and local law and abiding by 8 other stated factors in your guidance. FinCEN’s stated priorities have allowed such businesses to conduct commerce more safely through financial institutions which reduces the use of all cash, improves public safety, and reduces fraud. Leaving your guidance unchanged will continue to encourage small companies to make investments by freeing up access to capital. It will also further provide for well regulation and oversight through suspicious activity reports.
Rescinding this guidance would inject uncertainty in the financial markets. Attempts to disrupt this market are dangerous and imprudent. We see the removal of protections on financial institutions, which are operating in accordance with state laws, as a poor alternative to creating meaningful policy though the political process. This guidance must remain intact because the risks involved in removing it are too great.
We believe any move to eliminate revoke or change the 2014 guidance is unwise. We ask you stay the current course, a proven method that both encourages safe commerce and discourages illegitimate markets.
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