DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Marijuana businesses may not yet get a full green light on the banking rights that non-marijuana businesses already enjoy, but they are likely to get a “yellow light” as soon as the new year, Jack Finlaw, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper‘s chief legal counsel, said on a joint call Thursday.
“What we’re being told,” Finlaw said on the call hosted by Drug Policy Alliance, “is probably in the first quarter of 2014 there will be some guidance issued that’s comparable to the Cole memo from the Department of Justice that will give, maybe not a green light, but a yellow light to banks to allow them to do business [with marijuana businesses] — to take deposits, to set up checking accounts, to set up small business loans, to allow these businesses to accept purchases through debit cards or credit cards, to allow what normal businesses are allowed to do.”
Last week, the Bank Secrecy Advisory Group had a closed-door meeting in Washington, D.C., to begin talks about reforming banking regulations so that banks can legally engage in services with marijuana businesses.
Currently marijuana businesses aren’t allowed to set up legal bank accounts because the federal government still considers marijuana to be illegal. Worried banks fear that they could be implicated as money launderers if they offered traditional banking services to the pot businesses.
“It’s my understanding that the ball is in the court of the Department of Treasury,” Finlaw added. “The Department of Justice having issued the Cole memo and having signaled to Treasury that they would be willing to see some accommodation in the banking regulations, is working with FinCEN in Treasury.”
FinCEN is a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury that analyzes financial data to mitigate against illicit use and money laundering.