Following the January 4 announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice to withdraw the Cole guidance, today Representatives Denny Heck (WA-10) and Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) sent a letter to U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) requesting they preserve the 2014 guidance for marijuana-related businesses to operate under the Bank Secrecy Act.
Under state law, eight states and the District of Columbia permit adult recreational use of marijuana. Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico allow medical marijuana use.
“We see the removal of protections on financial institutions, operating in accordance with state laws, as a poor alternative to creating meaningful policy though the political process,” the letter states. ”This guidance must remain intact because the risks involved in removing it are too great.”
Cosigners of the letter include Representatives: Don Young (AK-AL), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Dina Titus (NV-01), Tom Garrett (VA-05), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Jacky Rosen (NV-03), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), Jared Polis (CO-02), John Delaney (MD-06), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Darren Soto (FL-09), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Michael Capuano (MA-07), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09).
Perlmutter, Heck, and Young introduced the SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 2215) in April 2017 to allow marijuana-related businesses in states with existing regulatory structures to access the banking system. The SAFE Banking Act reduces the public safety threat that arises when small businesses must operate on a cash-only basis. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced a similar companion bill (S. 1152) in the Senate.
The letter is available on dennyheck.house.gov.
Full text of the letter follows.
January 17, 2018
Director Ken Blanco
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
Department of the Treasury
2070 Chain Bridge Road
We are writing to express our continuing support for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance from 2014 on the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) Expectations Regarding Marijuana-Related Businesses. This guidance was developed and issued in conjunction with the Department of Justice and has provided much needed stability to a growing and well-regulated market.
We urge FinCEN to preserve this guidance to continue to support banking infrastructure and access to financial institutions for businesses that are operating in accordance with state and local law and abiding by 8 other stated factors in your guidance. FinCEN’s stated priorities have allowed such businesses to conduct commerce more safely through financial institutions which reduces the use of all cash, improves public safety, and reduces fraud. Leaving your guidance unchanged will continue to encourage small companies to make investments by freeing up access to capital. It will also further provide for well regulation and oversight through suspicious activity reports.
Rescinding this guidance would inject uncertainty in the financial markets. Attempts to disrupt this market are dangerous and imprudent. We see the removal of protections on financial institutions, operating in accordance with state laws, as a poor alternative to creating meaningful policy though the political process. This guidance must remain intact because the risks involved in removing it are too great.
We believe any move to eliminate revoke or change the 2014 guidance is unwise. We ask you stay the current course, a proven method that both encourages safe commerce and discourages illegitimate markets.
Denny Heck Ed Perlmutter
Member of Congress Member of Congress