DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Obama administration, taking the first regulatory step to accommodate the country’s growing state-approved marijuana businesses, issued guidelines Friday designed to bring dispensaries into the banking system and end their risky reliance on stashing large amounts of cash.
The step was a cautious one, reflecting conflicting pressures on the administration.
On one side, many states now allow the sale of marijuana for medical or recreational use. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said last month that law enforcement agencies were increasingly concerned about marijuana sellers who are forced to deal in cash because the banks’ unwillingness to deal with them prevents them from using credit cards.
At the same time, federal law still classifies marijuana as illegal, and many in law enforcement agencies have privately criticized the administration’s actions to rein in prosecutions.
The move drew praise from marijuana advocates but seemed likely to fall short of the reassurance banks have sought that they will be free from the risk of prosecution if they deal with marijuana-related transactions.