Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford is joining lawmakers asking Congress allow cannabis businesses to access banking services.

In a statement, Ford says, “It is long past time that Congress specifically lifts the restrictions that make it so difficult for regulated cannabis businesses to access banking. Without access to financial services, these businesses are subjected to increased safety concerns and unable to run their businesses with the same methods as other, similarly regulated industries. Nevada’s cannabis businesses deserve the same security and safety as every other local business that drives our economy.”

The attorney general is specifically asking lawmakers to advance the SAFER Banking Act.

The bipartisan bill will give cash-dependent cannabis dispensaries access to regular banking services.

The Secure And Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act (SAFER) bill, introduced by a bipartisan group of senators last week, passed out of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Nevada’s Senior Senator Catherine Cortez Masto was one of the 14 senators who voted to advance the measure to the full chamber’s floor. 

“There are so many Nevada business owners in our state who have opened cannabis businesses to create jobs and support their families, it’s legal for them to do so, and yet too many of these businesses can’t use critical banking services that all other businesses can access,” explained (D-NV) Senator Catherine Cortez Masto.

Most banks in the country do not service cannabis companies, as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level despite more than 20 states legalizing it for both recreational and medicinal use.

“Right now because they can’t bank with legitimate federally insured banking institutions, it’s an all cash business that means that they’re paying their vendors in cash, they’re paying their employees in cash. There is a lot of cash around the business that they have to secure, so not only are they being treated differently than other small businesses in the state, but it’s also a workers safety issue,” said Senator Cortez Masto. 

We went to SoL Cannabis in Washoe Valley. Founder Ed Alexander tells us that the current restrictions make an already demanding industry that much more challenging.

“Part of the struggle that we have with banking right now is that banks treat us very differently than other regulated businesses. Much higher fee structure, our customers pay a much higher fee structure, we don’t have merchant services which is the ability to use credit cards and debit cards,” said Alexander.

Having a universal set of guidelines will also make it easier for law enforcement.

“When there is an all cash business we’re always concerned about the safety of the workers but there’s also money laundering concern as well,” said Cortez Masto.

Nevada is the second highest per capita of cannabis sales in the nation.

The Silver State legalized medical cannabis 20 years ago and recreational marijuana 6 years ago.

More on: SAFER Banking Act

 The SAFER bill passed out of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Wednesday.  Read More