Editorial: Nessel right to support pot business

The Detroit News
Attorney General Dana Nessel

Dana Nessel’s first months as Michigan attorney general have been interesting to say the least. Despite our disagreement with many of her tactics and positions, we like to give credit where it is due. And we're pleased to see Nessel's actions to oversee marijuana in Michigan and support the growth of the state’s legal pot businesses.

Nessel recently joined a coalition of 38 attorneys general urging Congress to allow marijuana-related businesses to use the federal banking system. The specific legislation they support is the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, introduced in April, which would allow marijuana-related firms to use the federal banking system in states where the industry is legal.

Though medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan for more than a decade and voters legalized recreational marijuana last November, it remains an illegal Schedule 1 drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Because of this designation, marijuana businesses operating legally under state law are unable to use federally regulated banks.

Unable to keep cash in banks, many businesses have had to invest in state-of-the-art vaults for their cash. Others have had to launder money through other businesses just to protect profits. Some financial institutions in Michigan work with pot businesses, but must do so quietly to avoid federal intervention.

The people of Michigan decided they want both recreational and medical marijuana in our state. That desire requires the proper implementation of these laws through the newly formed state Marijuana Regulatory Agency. But it will also require action like banking access at the federal level to ensure businesses can work in a stable market to protect their assets, grow their supply and reach more customers.

Nessel also recently announced the creation of a new work group within her office to examine laws related to marijuana in Michigan to ensure the implementation of both the 2008 medical marijuana and 2018 recreational marijuana laws is clear and effective. She has also explored overturning convictions for those imprisoned on marijuana-related charges.

The people of Michigan have consistently affirmed their desire for legal pot in our state. Attorney General Nessel has rightly taken these steps to honor the will of the people.