DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Banks, worried about running afoul of federal money-laundering law in dealing with state-authorized marijuana businesses, may soon receive some much-needed guidance from U.S. agencies.
Because a federal prohibition of marijuana is still in place, most banks do not work with marijuana businesses in states that have legalized them for fear they might be charged with money laundering or failing to comply with other federal laws.
The U.S. Treasury Department plans to discuss with banks and other regulators how the federal enforcement stance regarding state-authorized marijuana business could affect the banking industry.
Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, said the bureau is already discussing the complicated issue with the Justice Department. Shasky Calvery spoke on Tuesday at a conference on money laundering.
The discussions are a reaction to the banking industry’s calls for more clarity regarding how a Justice Department memo on marijuana enforcement policy affects the industry, Shasky Calvery said.
Although the memo outlined some deference to state policies where marijuana was legalized, bankers are uncertain over the risks they face under U.S. laws on money laundering if they serve marijuana businesses banned by the federal government.