LAS VEGAS – According to Nevada Bankers Association President and CEO Phyllis Gurgevich, the association does not take a position on the legalization of marijuana, but does support Nevada’s legal marijuana businesses accessing the banking system.
“Our members are committed to serving the financial needs of our communities,” Gurgevich explained. “That includes those that run legalized cannabis businesses in Nevada.”
Currently, 36 states covering 70% of the nation’s population have legalized cannabis for medical or adult use. Despite this ever-growing voter preference, current federal law continues to prevent banks from safely banking these businesses without fear of federal sanctions. As a result, she said this segment of the state’s local economies is forced to operate on an all-cash basis, which creates serious public safety, revenue administration and legal compliance concerns throughout the state.
According to Gurgevich, “The impact on our local economies could also prove significant, as revenue paid to unrelated industries that provide products and services to state-authorized cannabis businesses such as law firms, accountants and contractors is technically money derived from illegal activities, and thus could be considered money laundering. This raises the significant question of whether financial institutions can bank these ancillary businesses, as such actions could likewise be considered violations of money-laundering laws. Without a change to federal law, that entire portion of economic activity in legal cannabis states may be marginalized from the banking system.”
She said the SAFE Banking Act recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives is “a banking-specific bipartisan solution that would address the reality of the current marketplace and allow banks to serve cannabis-related businesses in states where the activity is legal.”
About Nevada Bankers Association
NBA is the united voice of Nevada’s diverse banking industry. Members are dedicated to providing the best financial products, services and resources to drive and support economic growth, job creation and prosperity throughout the state of Nevada. Visit www.nvbankers.org.