Federal Government Releases Guidelines for Banks with Marijuana Dispensary Clients

Feb 17, 2014

Attorneys for some of the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries are hoping some new federal guidelines finally give their clients a chance to put their money in the bank. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Credit latimesblogs.latimes.com

Selling marijuana to those with a state-issued ID card is legal in Arizona. However, it remains a crime under federal law. Attorney Ryan Hurley said that has made some banks particularly anxious about running afoul of federal officials for aiding an illegal enterprise.

“Usually what’ll happen is they’ll be told by a branch manager, or somebody at the local or regional level even, that they’re fine with it. And once they start making a whole bunch of cash deposits, they get a letter from the national bank saying that their account is under review. And a few week later they get it shut down,” Hurley said.

But, on Friday the U.S. Treasury Department issued what it said were guidelines for banks dealing with marijuana businesses operating legally in their home states. And, while it did not give a legal all-clear, it seems to provide a roadmap of sorts for staying out of trouble. Attorney Jeffrey Kaufman said there’s a great opportunity here for banks that are paying attention.

“If I were a bank, I would immediately start accepting medical marijuana dispensaries as clients. Because the first one that does will end up representing probably all 126,” Kaufman said.

But, it remains to be seen who wants to go first.