WA state treasurer pushes for marijuana banking in wake of retail robberies

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Washington Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti met in Washington DC with members of the state’s congressional delegation to argue for marijuana banking reform on behalf of cannabis retailers in the market.

At issue: Marijuana retailers across Washington state are reporting an increase in violent robberies as criminals target cash-only marijuana businesses.

Pellicciotti, a Democrat, went to the nation’s capital last week to push lawmakers to pass the Secured and Fair Enforcement Banking (SAFE) Act, which would allow financial institutions to work with marijuana businesses without fear of federal reprisal.

“You can’t have a $1.4 billion-a-year transaction taking place in the state of Washington in cash and not have the risk of these type of robberies. … It’s time,” Pellicciotti told Seattle TV station King 5.

Just last Saturday, an employee at a retail marijuana store in Tacoma, Washington, was shot and killed during a robbery, marking the second deadly shooting at a cannabis shop in two days in western Washington, Seattle TV station Komo reported.

Police also shot and killed a suspect after a marijuana store robbery in Bellevue, Washington, last Wednesday, and the next day, a security guard fatally shot a would-be robber at a cannabis ship in Covington, Washington, according to police.

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The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the SAFE Banking Act several times, but it has yet to advance in the Senate.

But with Democrats in control of the Senate, Pellicciotti believes the bill might have a better chance to pass this year.

In 2020, the Democratic Treasurers Association urged Congress to support cannabis banking reform.