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August 24, 2019

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Nevada AG urges passage of marijuana banking legislation


John Locher / AP

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford speaks during an interview, Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, in Las Vegas.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford has signed a letter urging Congress to pass legislation to give legal marijuana-based businesses access to the federal banking system.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., and cosponsored by 173 other legislators, including all of Nevada’s representatives.

“As one of 33 states that has legalized the use of marijuana, this legislation would enable law enforcement, tax agencies and regulators to more effectively monitor local marijuana businesses and their transactions,” Ford said in a statement.

Most marijuana dispensaries and other operations must do business in cash because marijuana remains illegal under federal law and banks are concerned about the possibility of facing money laundering charges. The situation has raised safety concerns because of the amount of cash stored at the businesses.

The issue is being tackled on a bipartisan basis, and the act’s Senate equivalent has 24 co-sponsors, including Nevada Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen.

Ford is one of 38 attorneys general who signed the letter. The National Association of Attorneys General has also endorsed the legislation.

In the letter, the signatories call for a more flexible banking system.

“Our banking system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses in the various states and territories, with state and territorial input, while protecting the interests of the federal government,” the letter says. “This includes a banking system for marijuana-related businesses that is both responsive and effective in meeting the demands of our economy.”