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SACRAMENTO, Sept. 24, 2019 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 21 state attorneys general, urged Congress to pass the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2019 or similar measures that would allow legal cannabis-related businesses to access the banking system. The STATES Act would bring billions of dollars of existing cash transactions into the regulated banking sector, subject them to oversight, and reduce the risk of both violent and white-collar crime affecting the growing cannabis industry. It also aims to restrict federal enforcement actions against state-legal commercial cannabis business by amending the Controlled Substances Act.

“It’s time for our federal laws relating to cannabis to enter the 21st century. A large majority of states have now legalized the use of marijuana in some form. But federal inaction has accelerated concerns about public safety, uncertainty and disruptions to licensed businesses, and ultimately the respect for states’ rights,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The STATES Act is a promising step in the right direction that would safeguard licensed businesses that play by the rules in what has become a more than $8 billion industry. We call on Congress to pass legislation to bring certainty to states and territories that regulate an established and growing cannabis industry in America.”

The legal cannabis industry in 33 states and several U.S. territories employs hundreds of thousands of Americans nationwide and is expected to generate revenue between $50 billion and $80 billion over the next 10 years. Current federal law prevents banks from providing services to these state-regulated businesses, which forces them to operate almost entirely in cash and poses serious safety threats. The STATES Act seeks to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that federal enforcement actions would not apply to anyone who follows state laws relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration or delivery of cannabis.

A copy of the letter can be found here.