Otting Hopes for Resolution of Marijuana Banking Conflicts by 2020

Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting said today that he hopes that the current conflict between state and federal laws that inhibits banks from serving cannabis-related businesses will be resolved by 2020. “Congress is going to have to act at the national level to legalize marijuana if they want those entities involved in that business to utilize the U.S. banking system,” he told Politico, adding that he projected 25-30 percent odds it might be dealt with this year, “but I would hope by 2020 we can get this issue resolved.”

While the American Bankers Association has not taken a position on the legalization of marijuana or its derivatives, the number of states, the number of states — 33 and counting — that allow its sale and use raises practical challenges for banks. ABA is urging Congress and the regulatory agencies to provide greater legal clarity to banks operating in states where marijuana has been legalized for medical or adult use. Banks in those states, including institutions that have no interest in directly banking marijuana-related businesses, face rising legal and regulatory risks as the marijuana industry grows.