Washington State’s treasurer is calling on counterparts in other states to pressure Congress to take action on pending cannabis banking reform legislation, writing in an open letter to colleagues that recent violence at mostly cash-only cannabis retailers—including a spate of deadly robberies in Washington this past month—has made the matter a pressing public safety concern.
“We can no longer have this industry without access to banking when billions of dollars are changing hands in cash each year,” wrote Washington State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti (D) in the letter, published Thursday on the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) website. “It’s just not safe to have this financial volume in cash.”
Washington’s legal cannabis industry, which now does $1.4 billion in business annually, has experienced “daily armed robberies” since the beginning of this year, Pelliciotti noted. Following a NAST conference last month at which officials discussed obstacles to the cannabis industry caused by federal banking laws, Washington “saw 3 deaths in 4 days from cannabis retailer robberies.”
“These deaths are even more tragic because they’re preventable,” Pelliciotti wrote in the letter. “As treasurers, we each have a unique and respected role to play in addressing this urgent public safety matter.”
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