Treasury Defends Rules On Banks, Marijuana Sellers

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Tuesday defended the Obama administration’s guidelines to banks conducting transactions with legal marijuana sellers as congressional Republicans questioned whether the guidance amounts to tacit federal approval of a drug illegal in most states.

The Justice and Treasury departments issued a roadmap in February that would allow the new businesses to make payroll, save money and pay taxes, a move that enables the legalized marijuana industry to operate in Colorado and Washington state. In 2012, the two states became the first to approve recreational use of marijuana.

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, challenged Lew at a hearing, questioning whether guidance to banks on doing business with legal marijuana sellers represents a “rubber-stamp” by the federal government for a predominantly illegal activity.

“Without any guidance, there would be a proliferation of cash-only businesses, and that would make it impossible to see when there are actions going on that violate both federal and state law and that … would be a real concern,” Lew told the House subcommittee on financial services. “We thought that the clarity, bringing it into daylight, was a better solution.”

US Government Issues Rules For Banks On Dealing With Legal Marijuana Vendors

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The Obama administration issued new rules Friday intended to ease the concerns of banks wanting to deal with businesses that legally sell marijuana, something the nation’s banks have so far declined to do.

The rules, issued by the Treasury and Justice Departments, are intended to “move from the shadows the historically covert financial operations of marijuana businesses,” said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. [Read more…]