Gov. urges looser banking regulations for pot businesses

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    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has joined 18 other governors from around the country urging the federal government to lift banking restrictions on the increasingly legal marijuana industry.

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the Mackinac Policy Conference, May 29, 2019 | Andrew Roth

    Whitmer and the bipartisan group of governors from states including Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland and West Virginia want Congressional leadership to take up the SAFE Banking Act that would “create protections for depository institutions that provide financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers for such businesses, and for other purposes.”

    Michigan is one of 10 states with legalized recreational marijuana after about 56% of voters approved a ballot initiative last November. However, because pot is still illegal at the federal level, most financial institutions are barred from working with businesses operating in the space which leads to a largely cash industry.

    “Michiganders turned out in historic numbers in this last election to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, and we must respect the will of the voters,” Whitmer said in a statement announcing her signature on the letter. “There is an inherent danger for businesses operating in an all-cash business because financial institutions are unable to accept the risks and penalties associated with providing service to this industry under current law.”  

    Dana Nessel, March 22, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

    State Attorney General Dana Nessel last month signed on to a similar letter with the majority of the country’s attorneys general.

    U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) is one of more than 200 co-sponsors of the House bill, which has already cleared a committee hurdle. U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) is a co-sponsor of the companion bill in the upper chamber.

    Since taking office in January, Whitmer has signed an executive order establishing the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency to regulate the growing industry in the state. She and others have also said they’re working toward clearing the records of those charged with marijuana crimes, now that the substance is legal in the state.

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.

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