I was district attorney for Boulder County in 2012, when recreational cannabis became legal in Colorado. Cannabis is a cash-only business in Maine, as it is across the nation. That makes cannabis dispensaries targets for criminals. Robberies – sometimes violent – are sadly commonplace.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King can stop this from happening in Maine by voting for the SAFE Banking Act. The measure wouldn’t legalize cannabis nationally, but it would end the “cash only” problem and give Maine’s legal pot businesses access to banking services, business accounts and credit cards. Depository institutions would be protected from civil and criminal sanctions for providing financial services to the state’s growing number of legitimate, cannabis-related firms.

The Maine Banking Association joined 49 other state banking leaders in signing a letter to the U.S. Senate supporting the bill. The measures, they say, are “urgently needed to allow banks to handle the proceeds from state-licensed cannabis businesses and other service providers they rely upon for legal operations.”

The U.S. House has passed SAFE Banking six times, with support from Maine Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden. Sens. Collins and King should do the same, and make passage a priority. This is a simple, commonsense way to deter dispensary-related crimes in Maine and the growing number of states with recreational sales.

Stanley L. Garnett
Denver, Colo.

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