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Some Michigan lawmakers calling for federal government to change cannabis banking law

Marijuana plants
Flickr user A7nubis
Marijuana plants.

A few state lawmakers are urging the U.S. Congress to quickly pass a law, the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019, that would allow banks and credit unions to provide financial services to marijuana businesses in states where marijuana has been legalized.

Currently that's not allowed under federal law. 

Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) and Rep. Jim Lilley (R-Park Lake) are introducing a resolution in the Michigan House, and Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-East Lansing) is introducing a concurrent resolution in the Senate, pushing for legal marijuana businesses to have access to the banking system and to be allowed to open bank accounts.

Rabhi said it is important for marijuana businesses to be able to use banks like any other small business "to pay their taxes; to be able to receive credit card transactions."

According to Rabhi, without access to bank accounts, Michigan's growing cannabis industry is forced to be a cash business.

"It opens up basically a 1800's wild, wild West, stage coach type of situation where you have large amounts of cash traveling across the state," said Rabhi.

Rabhi said holding and transporting large amounts of cash increases the risk of robbery and violence. And he said forbidding marijuana businesses from having bank accounts makes it harder to do business with them and collect taxes from them. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general for 38 states and territories urging Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act.

More than 30 states, including Michigan, have legalized medical marijuana, and Michigan is one of ten states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

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