CALIFORNIA: Thanks to some recent direction from the Obama administration, banks are now allowed to do business with folks who make their living in the legal marijuana trade. But, maybe not in California.
In response to a growing uneasiness with the cannabis cash conundrum, spurred at least in part by the introduction of legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued new guidelines to financial institutions that it appears will allow them to knowingly accept deposits of pot proceeds.
Because marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, the feds traditionally taken a hardline stance with banks, which are forbidden from knowingly doing business with drug dealers. Despite marijuana’s varying legal status in dozens of states, the Department of Justice has essentially maintained that dispensaries are drug dealers and that banks doing business with them, consequently, risked a severe federal response. This leaves folks in the marijuana business either sitting on huge amounts of cash or essentially having to launder their proceeds through personal bank accounts or other businesses.