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Nevada: Feds Should Allow Cannabis Businesses to Use Banks (Subscriber Content)

By Bob Conrad
Cannabis at Mynt

Nevada has joined 37 states seeking to change the rules around banking and pot. Attorney General Aaron Ford cosponsored a bipartisan letter requesting the federal government give cannabis businesses access to American’s banking system.

Because cannabis, though legal in 33 other states for recreational and-or medical use, is still considered a schedule 1 drug, financial institutions are not allowed to use banks the same as other businesses.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford.
Nevada Attorney
General Aaron Ford.

The federal drug classification means “banks providing services to state-licensed cannabis businesses and even to other companies which sell services and products to those businesses could find themselves subject to criminal and civil liability under the federal Controlled Substances Act and certain federal banking statutes,” the state attorneys general wrote to Congress.

Cannabis cash makes pot businesses inherently riskier.

“The SAFE Banking Act legislation is of great importance to Nevadans as well as to a broad and bipartisan group of attorneys general across the nation,” Ford said. “We’re proud to receive the support of the National Association of Attorneys General which historically endorses less than a dozen policies a year.

“This legislation would enable law enforcement, tax agencies, and regulators to more effectively monitor local marijuana businesses and their transactions.”

“There has been a concern that, due to the cash-only nature of the industry, robbery would be prevalent, but this has not been the case.”

The act has 172 sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, and after passing the House Financial Services Committee, the next step is a full vote of the house.

Nevada representatives Dina Titus, Steven Horsford, and Susie Lee support the bill. Nevada Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen co-sponsored a similar bill in the U.S. Senate, Ford added.

Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, found that recreational use of cannabis did not necessarily increase crime.

A report by the Colorado Department of Public Safety determined late last year that “the most common industry-related crime was burglary, which accounted for 59% of all industry related crime in 2017. There has been a concern that, due to the cash-only nature of the industry, robbery would be prevalent, but this has not been the case.”

Unsurprisingly, though, marijuana arrests in Colorado have decreased by as much as 54%, and court filings for marijuana-related crimes dropped by 55% between 2012 and 2017.

Cannabis-based DUIs, however, rose from 12% in 2014 to 15% in 2017, but the total number of DUIs dropped in the year time span.

Colorado’s data, however, should be considered preliminary, the study’s authors said. “It is difficult to draw conclusions about the potential effects of marijuana legalization and commercialization on public safety, public health, or youth outcomes, and this may always be the case due the lack of historical data.”

Other Cannabis News

Governor Steve Sisolak last week signed legislation that will ensure more transparency for cannabis businesses in Nevada. Senate Bill 32 made it so company names and owners are now a matter of public record. The state also made its ranking of cannabis businesses public.

“That means the public can see who is operating marijuana establishments in Nevada and who applied for licenses,” said Department of Taxation Director Melanie Young. “We hope that you will participate in this new era of transparency in Nevada’s marijuana industry by taking the time to review information on this site.

The passage of the bill led to the publication of the list of licensees on Friday. Read the list below.

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