Agencies Working with FinCEN on Marijuana Banking Guidance

The federal banking agencies are having discussions with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network about guidance on how financial institutions can serve marijuana-related businesses, an OCC official said today during a regulatory roundtable at the ABA Government Relations Summit.

“I would just say that we are engaged in discussions with FInCEN around these difficult questions,” said Darrin Benhart, deputy comptroller for supervision risk management at the OCC. He that there is “no easy answer,” and senior officials at the Federal Reserve and the FDIC said they are also in conversation with FinCEN.

Marijuana businesses in states that have legalized the drug — and where federal laws banning marijuana have not been enforced — have found it difficult to obtain banking services, since depository institutions are obliged to follow federal laws. ABA has expressed concern that FinCEN’s previous guidance on submitting marijuana-related Suspicious Activity Reports is not sufficient to overcome the legal risks of serving marijuana businesses.