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Obama Administration Tells Banks How to Do Business with Legal Marijuana Dealers


The Obama administration said on Friday that it has advised U.S. attorneys in states, where marijuana is legalized, not to prosecute banks and financial institutions that allow legal marijuana stores to open accounts and accept credit card payments. Right now, the kindness is only for Colorado and Washington, where recreational marijuana has been legalized by popular support.

This is a good sign, though doubts remain, as previously the Obama administration had told U.S. attorneys not to prosecute legal marijuana businesses in states where it is legal. But federal raids continued and continue, and in places like California, federal authorities are threatening landlords, rather than the shops themselves, for housing businesses that deal in a substance still contraband under federal rules.


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However, the step taken this time is a bit stronger than the Obama administration’s previous assurances, and the promises were backed by issuance of new rules by the Treasury Department that lays down the path for banks to bring marijuana commerce into the financial mainstream.

While Democratic Rep. Denny Heck of Washington State welcomed the step and commented, “Legitimate marijuana businesses will no longer be forced to operate as cash-only businesses,” others differed.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said, “Marijuana trafficking is illegal under federal law, and it’s illegal for banks to deal with marijuana sale proceeds under federal law. Only Congress can change these laws. The administration can’t change the law with a memo.”

Frank Keating, president and chief executive of the American Bankers Association said, “This guidance doesn’t alter the underlying challenge for the banks … Possession or distribution of marijuana violates federal law, and banks that provide support for those activities face the risk of prosecution and assorted sanctions.”

Accepting deposits from marijuana businesses remains a violation of money-laundering laws and only the Congress can remedy the situation. Marijuana is still classified in the same category as LSD and Heroin, though few know why.

Update: The title has been rewritten following reader suggestions

Obama Administration Tells Banks How to Do Business with Legal Marijuana Dealers by

  • onebrownmouse

    So another federal memo that offers no real protection. And who is
    getting protection anyway? Not the MJ business owners, but banks…And
    why such a to do when the banks have been found guilty in the court of
    law for laundering hundreds of billions for drug cartels….

    “How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico’s murderous drug gangs”
    http://www.theguardian.com/wor… … drug-gangs

    “Sweetheart settlement for HSBC bank on drug money laundering charges”
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articl… … c-d13.html

    “Wells Fargo: Your Neighborhood Mega-Money Laundering, Drug War Profiteering, Prison-Industry Enlarging Bank”
    “Wells Fargo is one big elite networking operation that’s not afraid to get its hands covered in blood money.”

    In months not a single mention from the feds on how to make it legal on
    the business owners side of things….just big banks who have excellent
    experience in laundering drug money, were deemed too big to jail, and
    owe the feds one for the lenient ‘penalties’ over billions in blood
    money. Looks like the feds want the large amounts of money back in the
    banks so it’s easier to seize from business owners who can still be
    charged with RICO laws…..

  • claygooding

    Obama Administration Tells Banks to Do Business with Legal Marijuana Dealers


    Obama Administration Tells Banks THEY CAN Do Business with Legal Marijuana Dealers

  • Brion Eduardo

    “Nothing but the truth,” huh? Then rewrite the headline! You know full well that neither Holder nor Obama told banks they have to do any business with anybody, but rather that they simply could.

  • Dave_K

    This action needs to be paired with removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act scheduling system and action on the part of congress to allow states to decide what to do with marijuana. By itself it is nothing that a future administration could not change on a moment’s notice without telling the public or the states. They just show up with machine guns and battering rams like they did a while ago in California after telling the state that they would not go after businesses in compliance with state laws. The feds do not have a history of sticking to these kinds of agreements for very long. Since marijuana is already the number one cash crop in the country and since there are not semi trucks being stopped at our southern borders full of cash on a regular basis it’s pretty clear that the banks have already figured out a system of how to launder all this money. An underground market this large pays for a lot of corruption in our country and is likely behind some of the efforts to keep marijuana against the law here. I support the actions to allow marijuana businesses to use banks but that action needs to be followed by clear laws and regulations that allow this to happen so that there is no disagreement later.

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