OLYMPIA – In 2012 Washington state was one of the first states to legalize adult-use cannabis. With eight years of legal retail sales now complete, Washington’s system has matured in all but one critical aspect: access to federally-insured banking services and electronic payment processing.
The lack of banking services threatens public safety. Due to reliance on cash transactions, cannabis retailers have been targeted by armed robbers. Earlier this year, a man was killed while working at a retail store. Clerks have been shot and beaten while on the job. During early 2022, more than 50 armed robberies of state-licensed cannabis retail stores were reported.
On July 27, the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board Director of Enforcement and Education Chandra Brady joined federal legislators for a briefing organized by the U.S. Cannabis Council. At the briefing, they unveiled new TV ads highlighting the urgency of congressional action on the SAFE Banking Act. The act would give cannabis retailers more options to accept credit card and debit transactions with customers.
Earlier this year, Gov. Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson penned a joint op-ed calling on Congress to act. Together with Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti and Lt. Gov. Denny Heck, they followed with a letter to key leaders in Congress.