4
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
Westword

Mayor Hancock Asks Congress to Approve Marijuana Banking

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is continuing his pledge to support Denver's marijuana industry, sending a public letter to the United States Congress in support of marijuana banking reform.

Because they are illegal at the federal level, marijuana businesses have an extremely hard time finding financial institutions that will offer them banking accounts, loans or other financial services upon which other industries rely. Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter has been pushing a marijuana banking reform bill for six years: the SAFE Banking Act, which received its first hearing earlier this month with the House Financial Services Committee. Ahead of a vote in the committee, Hancock sent a letter to the committee chairman, New York Congressman Gregory Meeks, on Wednesday, February 27, in support of the bill.

Although he wasn't in favor of Colorado's recreational legalization measure in 2012, Hancock tells Meeks that the "vast majority" of Denver's pot businesses have complied with and have made positive contributions to the city.

Continue Reading

Marijuana Deals Near You

"Denver has issued 1,093 cannabis business licenses," Hancock writes. "More than $32 million in marijuana tax revenue is projected for our city from marijuana sales in 2019. Opening financial services to the cannabis industry could reduce the opportunity and motive for crime in what is currently a cash-based industry. It would also improve the ability of the federal government to audit tax receipts and allow for the legalized markets to reduce unnecessary financial expenses for the cannabis industry, potentially leading to additional pay for the many employees working in this industry.

"Additionally, billions of dollars in deposits nationwide would strengthen the country’s financial sector," he continues. "The vast majority of Denver’s cannabis businesses have complied with our rules and regulations, and the industry has made meaningful contributions to supporting a strong and safe market in the Mile High City."

The first hearing for the bill didn't include witness testimony on the measure's behalf from any Colorado entities, but Hancock writes in the letter that he would gladly testify at the next hearing if asked, as well as talk about social equity in the burgeoning industry.

"I am happy to offer my testimony in person or in writing to your committee so the facts about marijuana in America can be accurately portrayed from a mayor who has overseen the complete history of legalized recreational marijuana from the beginning. I’d also be happy to address our work to bring equity to the cannabis market, so more minorities can have a place in the industry, which could be advanced with financial lending opportunities available," he concludes.

Hancock has increased his involvement in marijuana policy matters in the past year. In 2018, he directed some marijuana tax revenue to affordable-housing projects in the city and helped create a national mayoral coalition to lobby for federal marijuana reform. Earlier this year, his administration partnered with city and district attorney offices to create an expungement program for low-level pot convictions. And in March, Hancock is scheduled to talk with rapper Bun B about the effects of marijuana legalization on a city.

Here's Hancock's full letter to Meeks:

Dear Rep. Meeks:

I’m writing to you today to encourage congressional support for passage of the SAFE Banking Act. As the Mayor of the first major city in America to manage legalized recreational cannabis, I can say with strong conviction that it is long overdue for these businesses to have the same access to banking and financial services as all other legitimate U.S. businesses. Passage of this Act would add important protections against an illegal market and bad actors, as well as allow for full transparency and regulation of transactions and provide an economic boost for the United States.

Denver has issued 1,093 cannabis business licenses. More than $32 million dollars in marijuana tax revenue is projected for our city from marijuana sales in 2019. Opening financial services to the cannabis industry could reduce the opportunity and motive for crime in what is currently a cash-based industry. It would also improve the ability of the federal government to audit tax receipts and allow for the legalized markets to reduce unnecessary financial expenses for the cannabis industry, potentially leading to additional pay for the many employees working in this industry. Additionally, billions of dollars in deposits nationwide would strengthen the country’s financial sector.

The vast majority of Denver’s cannabis businesses have complied with our rules and regulations, and the industry has made meaningful contributions to supporting a strong and safe market in the Mile High City. Denver’s marijuana businesses have consistently supported our youth prevention efforts – efforts that have resulted in youth usage dropping. The marijuana industry has also played an important role in educating the public on rules for marijuana consumption in Denver and throughout the state of Colorado. They are a valid contributor to our local economy and supported an increase in marijuana sales tax to provide additional funding for affordable housing programs in Denver. They’ve overcome many obstacles to earn their place among our country’s legitimate businesses, and voters across the United States have chosen to end marijuana prohibition. It’s long overdue that Congress respects the will of our voters in legalized cannabis markets and allow banking services for this legitimate industry.

I am happy to offer my testimony in person or in writing to your committee so the facts about marijuana in America can be accurately portrayed from a mayor who has overseen the complete history of legalized recreational marijuana from the beginning. I’d also be happy to address our work to bring equity to the cannabis market, so more minorities can have a place in the industry, which could be advanced with financial lending opportunities available. This industry has created more than 18,000 jobs in my state and generated billions of dollars in economic activity. Allowing banking services is a national economic stimulus that does not cost taxpayers, and would be a bipartisan victory for champions of states’ rights and the Tenth Amendment.

Respectfully,
Michael B. Hancock
Mayor 

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send: