Nevada’s Masto, Rosen support bank access for marijuana businesses | nnbusinessview.com

Nevada’s Masto, Rosen support bank access for marijuana businesses

NNBV staff report

NuLeaf Dispensaries in Incline Village (seen here), is among several legal marijuana businesses in Nevada that deal in cash only.

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Both of Nevada's U.S. senators have signed on to federal legislation designed to provide legal marijuana businesses access to banks.

"Recreational marijuana use is now legal in Nevada and nine other states across the country and medical marijuana is legal in 33 states," Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said in a statement. "It's time we created an infrastructure that would allow the marijuana industry in these states to operate legally and provide legitimate cannabis-related businesses with access to the banking system."

Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., introduced the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act to the U.S. Senate on Thursday. Under the bill, which has 20 other cosponsors (Rosen and Cortez Masto included), banks would be shielded from being punished by federal regulators for maintaining accounts for state-approved cannabis businesses.

According to a Thursday report in Forbes, the bill comes two weeks after similar legislation cleared the House Financial Services Committee in a bipartisan vote of 45 to 15. That House bill now has 160 cosponsors signed on — more than a third of the entire chamber.

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"Nevada's marijuana businesses are continuing to operate as cash-only businesses as a result of federal laws blocking access to financial institutions and services, leaving many of these businesses susceptible to theft," said Rosen, D-Nev., said in a Thursday statement, adding that the SAFE Banking Act will allow those businesses the same access to financial institutions as other legal businesses.

The movement on cannabis banking legislation comes amid growing support for broader marijuana law reforms.

Last week, according to Forbes, bipartisan groups of House and Senate members filed legislation to let states enact their own legalization laws without federal interference. That bill, the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, wouldn’t change marijuana’s scheduling status, but would exempt state-legal activity from the Controlled Substances Act.

Along with Merkley, Gardner, Cortez Masto and Rosen, other cosponsors of SAFE Act are Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Angus King (I-Maine), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).