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New Cannabis and Hemp Certification Acknowledged by Attorney General Alliance

Attorney generals from across the U.S. agreed to officially recognize the launch of The Public Health & Safety Cannabis Financial Service Certification, which was announced at the Attorney General Alliance’s (AGA) Cannabis Project Conference in Denver, Colorado on April 20-21.

The certification serves as a way to assist both “law enforcement and state regulators” in identifying legal cannabis businesses from illegal operations, and addresses banking issues as well. “In absence of federal regulation and oversight, the need for an independent versus self-certification is imminent. We need banking protections in order to prevent illegal and criminal activity as cannabis grows. This is an important first step to give guidance to state attorneys general and lawmakers while raising the bar for the industry,” said AGA Executive Director Karen White. “The certification brings banking and financial transparency to ensure the safety of the monetary system for institutions banking hemp and cannabis.”

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas presented certifications at the conference as well. “It is crucial to know where cannabis and hemp operators are banking to maintain a level of compliance,” said Balderas. “This certification will give regulators that insight. Additionally, hemp and cannabis operators can stand by their own financial and operational integrity as they subject themselves to volunteer audits.”

The certification was granted in October 2021 after a pilot program. This was the result of the work of ASTM International which has more than 900 members and 28 countries governments. “I am pleased to see that what was envisioned over a year ago is complete,” White said last year. “A program such as this which provides support to law enforcement and assists in issues related to public health and safety, consumer protection, and rule-of-law are necessary in this maturing industry where compliance is a distinguishing attribute.”

In the cannabis sector, banking remains a significant problem. The House recently passed the SAFE Banking Act, which was approved by the House in February. While there have been many calls for legislation to improve banking, Congress has yet to fully support it. Safe banking is essential, particularly in the light of recent incidents in Washington where numerous cannabis dispensary burglaries took place. Jordan Brown was a dispensary worker at World of Weed, Tacoma. Two other minors were also involved in numerous robberies.

Ed Perlmutter introduced the SAFE Banking Act in 2013. This was at a time when recreational marijuana had been legalized only in Washington and Colorado. Perlmutter wrote to Charles Schumer, Senator Booker, Ron Wyden, Senate Committee on Finance Chairman, and Sherrod brown, Chair of Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. “The SAFE Banking Act is an immediate solution to get cash off our streets and ensure state-legal, legitimate businesses can operate like any other type of business, particularly small and minority-owned cannabis businesses who have been disproportionately impacted by the lack of banking services,” Perlmutter wrote. “It will also make our communities safer from the increased risk of robberies facing cannabis businesses and employees which continue to occur, including three people who died during robberies in one-week last month in Washington state.”

Perlmutter exhorts his audience to support the SAFE Banking Act. “We share the same goals to fully reform federal cannabis laws. This year’s progress in the fight for complete cannabis reform cannot be stalled. This would be to the detriment of thousands of state-legal businesses, their employees, and the safety of our communities,” he concluded in his letter. “As you work through the summer to finalize comprehensive cannabis legislation, I ask you and your colleagues to take the first step in reforming our cannabis laws and pass the SAFE Banking Act in the America COMPETES Act or as a standalone bill as soon as possible.”