A bipartisan group of 21 attorneys general has called upon Congress to bring an end to the situation that prevents U.S. cannabis companies from accessing the banking system.

Thirty-three states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, recreational purposes or both, but it remains outlawed at a federal level. This prevents cannabis producers, wholesalers, and retailers from banking their money, leaving them reliant on cash and susceptible to crime.

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2019 seeks to change this by allowing the companies to access banks. The attorneys general urged Congress to pass the STATES Act, arguing that it would lift the cloud of regulatory uncertainty currently hanging over many legitimate businesses.

They added that such a move would “reduce the industry’s reliance on cash, bring greater clarity to the industry, prevent crime by limiting opportunities for potentially violent robberies and thefts, and ensure that each state has the freedom to determine policy in this area”.

Attorneys general from Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, plus Washington, D.C., all signed the letter.

California’ Xavier Becerra said it is time for federal marijuana laws to enter the 21st century, while Karl Racine of Washington, D.C. said it would reduce the risk of both violent and white-collar crime in the industry.

It would also make it easier for states to claim the revenue tax they should be receiving from the legal marijuana trade.

Racine is leading the bipartisan coalition of attorneys general seeking to bring billions of dollars of existing cash transactions into the regulated banking sector and subject these transactions to proper oversight.

He highlighted the 2016 murder of a Marine Corps veteran working as a security guard at a Colorado marijuana dispensary during an attempted robbery, and a 2018 heist that saw thieves rob an extraction specialist in California, arguing that banking for the cannabis industry would deter such crimes.

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