Legislators in West Virginia want to make it a felony to launder money with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

West Virginia House Bill 2585, introduced yesterday, updates the state’s money laundering statutes in several ways, including the addition of a definition for “cryptocurrency”, which it then includes in the state’s definition of a “monetary instrument”.

While stopping short of deeming it money, the inclusion is a notable one given the recent push among state legislatures to draft new laws around the technology.

As the bill states:

“‘Cryptocurrency’ means digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, and which operates independently of a central bank.”

Those convicted of money laundering in West Virginia face as many as 15 years in prison depending on the charge, as well as thousands of dollars in fines.

Public records indicate that the measure has strong support among members of the legislature, with a total of 11 sponsors and co-sponsors signed on, according to data from LegiScan. The bill has been sent to the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee for further deliberation.

Representatives in Arizona, North Dakota and other US states have pursued a raft of proposals since the start of the year, though the West Virginia bill is the first recent one to focus directly on money laundering.

Image Credit: Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

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