Although it’s not an issue at the forefront of the marijuana advocacy agenda, it’s certainly important that marijuana businesses be allowed to use the US banking system. In a recent announcement the Attorney General stated that now allowing marijuana businesses to access United States bank created a public safety hazard.
Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers agree that forcing businesses to leave large sums of cash around is bad policy but wonder why it took so long for the United States government to realize this obvious fact?
Although this obstacle has not been highly publicized it is an important step. Many marijuana advocates believe this is a milestone moment in the battle to construct a legitimate cannabis industry with legal businesses operating above board.
The key here is that the street trade for marijuana will remain strong as long as the government stands in the way of progress – and no one, particularly those in favor of legalization, want marijuana on the streets.
This advance in the law can really be viewed, at least in part, as a testament to the effect of legalization in states such as Washington and Colorado. The legalization of recreational use in those states has had an effect across the country, and this is just one example of a shift occurring throughout the United States.
It is common for society to shift first, and for laws and political amendments to follow and reflect the social changes.
With regard to the shift to marijuana businesses using United States banks the administration should soon announce formal regulations that reflect the change suggested by the attorney general. While the Attorney General suggested the new regulations would soon be in place some have claimed he was really only suggesting that the Justice Department would pursue guidance for prosecutors involved in federal law enforcement.
A legal guidance memo issued to prosecutors would be far less helpful for marijuana businesses and would not hold up in court. In the past memos providing legal guidance to prosecutors have been largely ignored by individual prosecutors, without repercussions.
There are additional complications surround this announcement as well. For example, it is not known whether it will impact only states that have legalized recreational marijuana, or if the change would also effect states, such as California where only medicinal marijuana has been legalized.
In August of 2013, the attorney general stated that the federal government would not pursue avenues to overturn the legalization of recreational pot use in Washington and Colorado but federal drug agents continue to focus on some large operations.
As always the status of the law surrounding marijuana is in flux and difficult to pin down.
Holder: Feds to set rules for banks and pot money, Jan. 23, 2014, By Josh Gerstein.
More Blog Entries:
California: City Council to Review Bill Allowing Dispensaries , December 29, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
Budding Industry for Labs Testing Marijuana, December 27, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog