January 24, 2014

Rules to focus on sanctioned marijuana businesses

Jan. 27, 2014 – Federal rules are expected out soon addressing access to financial services for sanctioned marijuana businesses, according to news reports quoting Attorney General Eric Holder.

The rules aren't aimed at authorizing specific services to the marijuana businesses but will instruct prosecutors "not to prioritize cases involving legal marijuana businesses that use banks," The New York Times reported. Similar reports ran in Reuters and CNN Money/Fortune.

Financial institutions have said they won't work with the businesses from fear they will be scrutinized by regulators or prosecuted under anti-money laundering laws. The rules being discussed to address those concerns are reportedly being worked out by Justice and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Holder is quoted noting this issue has a public safety component since businesses that can't get financial institution accounts have to store large amounts of cash on site, making them targets of thieves. Lack of access to credit cards and business loans are also noted.