AGs seek ‘safe harbor’ for institutions handling money for cannabis-related businesses

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined 18 other attorneys general Tuesday in signing a letter to Congress requesting legislation that would allow states with legalized marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system.

The letter, sponsored by attorneys general from Alaska, California, New York, Illinois and more, requests legal “safe harbor” for depository institutions that provide service to cannabis-related businesses in states where such businesses are legal.


“Banks and other depository institutions are currently hindered by federal law from providing financial services to cannabis businesses,” said Chin, who co-chairs the National Association of Attorneys General Working Group with Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. “This encourages a cash-only, grey market that hurts law enforcement and tax collections.”

“Twenty-nine states and several U.S. territories have legalized the use of medical marijuana,” the letter states. “Among those, eight states and the District of Columbia also allow recreational use by adults over 21 years of age. However, because the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal substance, banks providing services to state-license cannabis businesses could find themselves subject to criminal and civil liability under the Controlled Substances Act and certain federal banking statutes.”

The letter argued that its request would not only infuse billions of dollars into the banking industry, but also would protect public safety by bringing “grey-market” industries into a sector where they would be subject to law enforcement monitoring.


Currently, eight licensed marijuana dispensaries exist within the state, with two licenses being issued to Big Island businesses in 2016.

Email Michael Brestovansky at

  1. Sara Steiner-jackson January 17, 2018 7:30 am

    What the aG’s need to do is sue the Congress to reclassify cannabis using the CSA guidelines. Since cannabis is safer than potatoes and causes zero deaths, it would be classified in the same schedule as food plants and the big Alcohol, Tobacco & firearms conglomerate that is persecuting us and keeping it illegal can go fly an effing kite. We are sick of the scam of cannabis prohibition!

    Look, Hawaii has supposedly had a Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act since the year 2000. 18 years later, over half the country has medical cannabis ( and dispensaries) and many are decriminalizing as well. Here is backwards looking Hawaii, we cant even get a damn dispensary open and medical cannabis patients are persecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Health Department worked with the NED and the AG to null and void Act 178 which changed the law AND ALLOWS FOR TRANSFER OF CANNABIS AND PARAPHERNALIA BETWEEN MEDICAL PATIENTS EXPRESSLY BECAUSE THERE IS NO SAFE AND AFFORDABLE WAY TO ACCESS CANNABIS

    THE POLICE, prosecutors and judges continue to place top priority on busting cannabis users, filling our jails and prisons with people who smoked a joint on probation and it was revoked. The Prosecutors and Judges have an obvious sentencing disparity, and murderers, rapists, child-starvers, robbers, car-jackers, credit card theft, peppersprayers, ANY CRIME YOU CAN IMAGINE gets pleaded down to a slap on the wrist, precisely because the prison is full of cannabis users.

    Yet the prosecutor is throwing the book, 3 life terms and 32 years for Mike Ruggles for transfering cannabis to an undercover cop who went to Dr Berg and LIED and got a cannabis certification.

    Thats where we are folks, your police department and prosecutors office is in denial of real crime in order to persecute fake crime.

    1. windplr January 17, 2018 12:47 pm

      This is only speculation (I have no proof), but I believe that there are certain entities and religious institutions on the islands that have money and power, who are deliberately sabotaging any attempt to get medicinal cannabis dispensaries established. These same entities are pushing the draconian policing of so-called cannabis crime. It is truly disgusting that this government and their benefactors believe it is their job to tell the rest of us what we may or may not put into our body.

  2. brian haas January 17, 2018 6:41 pm

    Hawaii wants to throw medical patients in jail and at the same time they want to help big business make money stop voting for people who throw Hawaiians in jail while making themselves rich

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