Lawmakers Call for Additional Marijuana Banking Guidance

With state or local law in 29 states and the District of Columbia now permitting marijuana use for various purposes, a bipartisan group of 10 senators today asked the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to issue additional guidance for financial institutions that provide indirect services to marijuana-related businesses.

Marijuana use remains illegal under federal law, leaving many banks and credit unions hesitant to serve marijuana-related businesses. FinCEN issued guidance on suspicious activity reporting for marijuana-related transactions and accounts in 2014, but did not distinguish between state-sanctioned cannabis operations and the businesses that serve them, the lawmakers said, leading many banks to deny service to a number of these indirect service providers. Without access to banking services, these companies are often left to operate in cash, which increases the potential for robberies, tax fraud and other financial crimes, they added.

“With tens of millions of Americans soon gaining legal access to marijuana under state laws, new guidance is necessary in order to allow banks to enhance the availability of financial services for indirect businesses that service the marijuana industry,” the lawmakers wrote. “This will not only bolster the safety of our communities, but it will also help spur economic growth.”