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Marijuana Business News

New Guidelines Announced Allowing Marijuana Banking

marijuana dispensary bank banks bankingThis afternoon, the Obama Administration announced new guidelines that will allow banks to legally provide financial services to state-licensed marijuana businesses. Twenty states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use; two of those states (Colorado and Washington) recently legalized marijuana like alcohol.

Many banks have been afraid to open checking or savings accounts for legalized marijuana businesses out of fear of breaking federal law. As a result these businesses are forced to deal with large amounts of cash, creating public safety risks for employees, bystanders, and police officers.

In a joint statement, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, said the move gives “greater financial transparency” to an industry that remains illegal in nearly every state. It also makes clear that banks would be helping law enforcement with “information that is particularly valuable” in filing regular reports that offer insights about how marijuana businesses work.

Holder’s announcement closely follows guidance issued in August by the Justice Department that indicated the Obama administration will not undermine state marijuana legalization provided states are responsibly regulating marijuana businesses. In a recent interview with The New Yorker, President Obama said marijuana is less harmful to people who use it than alcohol, the war on marijuana is creating unjust racial disparities, and it is important for legalization to move forward in Colorado and Washington “because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

Statement from Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance:

“It appears that the Obama Administration is trying to provide as much protection as possible for the marijuana industry, given the constraints of federal law,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.  “The assurances the administration have provided appear fairly substantial and will hopefully prove sufficient so that banks will feel safe doing business with the marijuana industry. I have to say I’m impressed by how the White House is trying to make this work, especially given the inability of Congress to do anything constructive in this area.”

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation

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  • jasonl

    Big Day for hemp/cannabis! Prohibition well on its way from ending!

  • mlc

    The end of Psycho-Pharmacological McCarthyism is near! Praise B to Jah! Just say yes grow your own!

  • wowFAD

    The specific implementation of the new guidelines go something like this: if a bank wants to start a relationship with a cannabis business, they are required to file a “suspicious activity report” (SAR) with the feds that informs them of the nature of the business relationship.

    Here’s a link to the pdf of the guidelines:
    http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/guidance/pdf/FIN-2014-G001.pdf

    SAR’s break down like this. They can be one of three *specific* designations:
    1. “Marijuana Limited” — This is the good one. Basically, the bank thinks this cannabis business is 100% above board, complying with state laws, and in compliance with the eight guidelines that were set in “Cole Memo 2.0” last summer. That means the feds will tacitly give the thumbs-up for that business relationship and won’t rip into it looking to file charges for money laundering.
    2. “Marijuana Priority” — This is the bad one. If the bank gives the SAR this designation, that means the bank has reason to believe that the cannabis business is in violation of state law and/or the guidelines in Cole Memo 2.0. And yes, this type of SAR is shared with law enforcement. There are a couple pages of bullet-pointed indications that a cannabis business is “shady.”
    3. “Marijuana Termination” — This one sounds bad, but it isn’t necessarily. It specifically says that the bank should use this SAR designation if they simply no longer want to continue the business relationship for the sake of their anti-money laundering policies (cold feet for their reputation), or if the cannabis business in question just wants to switch banks (in which case there’s a little additional paperwork). It doesn’t appear as though this designation would be flagged for law enforcement.

    All and all, it sounds reasonable, and certainly does a good job walking the tight-rope created by the senseless Schedule 1 classification of cannabis. It’s been suggested that banks won’t want to go through such a “hassle” of filing SARs to do business with cannabis businesses, but I’m fairly certain the banks WANT to do business with the fastest growing market since smart phones.

    • Johnny Bloomington

      Good info but all this added rules is bull$hi7! Just change the effing law and get rid of the CSA!

  • Bic

    I’m afraid the only reason we’re seeing this rush to legalize coming out of Washington is that Wall Street and the corporate fat cats smell money. By the time they get done regulating (controlling) the production and sale of MJ, it will become even harder to get or grow without signing your life away to big brother. One only needs to look at what Monsanto has done with corn to see the perilous path that lies ahead for hemp and MJ consumers. Better keep an eye on them!

    • wowFAD

      I share your worries, because it’s not just corn. The majority of federal regulations concerning food production are skewed to favor industrial processing operations over small farms, which is exactly how the purveyors of GMOs and petroleum-based fertilizers like it. What’s tragic is the large-scale industrial food processing companies WELCOME the extra regulation, knowing their small-scale competition (who often produce a safer, superior product) can’t keep up with those regulations. And one might think those companies are lobbying Democrats because the talking point has always been “Democrats = over-regulation” but I live in Georgia, and there are almost no laws protecting local, small-scale, non-interstate food production and private food co-ops. You’ll find Jimmy Hoffa before you find raw milk in Georgia.

      If you have the chance to watch a documentary called “Farmageddon” you’ll see state and local police (at the behest of the USDA and/or FDA) using SWAT teams to raid family farms who are just growing FOOD. Little kids held at gunpoint while the farm is tossed, equipment seized, and perfectly good food destroyed — it’s a travesty of justice on par with cannabis prohibition.

      We all want the federal prohibition to end, but that may also mean the end of Mom & Pop cannabis businesses. And the ones that don’t quietly go out of business will get raided by masked thugs with automatic weapons for their “non-complicance” with the new regulations — as if prohibition were still in full-swing.

      We need to reform our laws concerning our food production (and our laws about the appropriate use of force) before we let the same fate befall the emerging legal cannabis market.

      • Bic

        Sounds like what happens to farmers in “Food Inc” who are raided by ex Black Ops mercenaries for saving seed and sued for ridiculous cross-pollination claims.

        • wowFAD

          Precisely. Those lawsuits would only be reasonable if the farmer being sued had control over the WEATHER and deliberately made the wind blow pollen onto his field. It’s not like there’s a farming community of X-men out there.

          Pollen blown by wind is not theft of intellectual property, and the courts were clearly biased in favor of Big Agro when they set that precedent. In that scenario, the only way for the farmer to actively avoid IP lawsuits would be to buy seeds *from the company suing him* instead of saving them from previous crops, which is a catch 22 that rubs dangerously close to extortion.

          Our justice system and the parts of government that are supposed to serve the interests of every voter equally have been bent to serve the interests of whoever has the deep pockets to get the “right people” elected.

          • Bic

            There is hope! A farmer in Australia just sued Monsanto for the same thing and won!

  • Gerhard Balthasar

    I see it this way. Obama knows USA needs the money and how much money there is behind this business from experience. He does all the regulation before congress moves. He want not use an executive order to rechedule because if congress makes this move (sometime it will) there is no way back AND all the regulation is already in place. There is a full working model already there to adapt for the whole USA. It think this is quite clever and the best thing he could do for legalizlation politicaly.

  • Henry Myers

    I advised anybody that be really careful with this , I m sure this new found attention to the financial part of the cannabis market is ultimately induce by GREED not care and concern , believe the united of states of america don t care what you consume as long is giving by them and tax properly , this banking bills means the federal nose in any legal or illegal business or individuals involved in cannabis or the profit of such beautiful plant…….

  • PodBoy

    The emperor declares another bunch of friends who don’t have to obey the law. Wish the rest of us could get in on that, or at least enforce the constitution so 95% of federal ‘laws’ would be nullified.

    • wowFAD

      I might have read the rest of your comment if you hadn’t started it by calling him “the emperor.”

      Let that sink in.

      Especially because legal banking for cannabis businesses is something most people on this blog have WANTED to happen, for years. Forcing legit cannabis businesses to be cash-only has been one of the favorite bully tactics used by the ONDCP to hinder the emerging legal cannabis market.

      Or don’t you support the free market? You’re risking your tea-bagger accreditation. Supporting the free market is on page 17 of your “Blind Obama Hatred” manual, right below the picture of Obama with the Hitler mustache, right above the rule about calling him a socialist as often as possible. It’s in chapter 2, entitled “Economic Double-Standards” — if you hit the section explaining why only poor people should pay taxes, you’ve gone too far.

      • PodBoy

        a) Fuck you and your “blind hatred of obama’. I never said ANYTHING similar to what you’re suggesting. If you have no reasonable argument, and can only name call someone who disagrees with you (apparently only on ONE point), then clearly you are the problem no? I commented on the ‘president’ ruling by decree, that is a power he doesn’t have. That is all I said, then you decided that because I think his actions are those of an emporer, you then declare that I have blind hatred for him, that I have a picture of him with a hitler mustache, and call him a socialist… Which is kind of like a racist saying that all of this or that kind of people are all the same, and I genuinely believe that is not what you want to say or who you want to be, so I invite you to consider that.
        b) I absolutely support the free market, and it doesn’t permit a ‘president’ do what he wants. So while it is VERY good news that banks are free to do business, and the federal government has NO business in the business of business, the ‘president’ ruling by decree, as an emperor does, is nothing to be happy about. What if he (or someone after him) used that imagined authority to say… ‘anybody who consumes cannabis goes straight to jail with no trial’? ‘most people on [some other] blog’ probably WANT that. But who gives a shit what groups of people want? Individuals have rights, so it doesn’t matter if you want obama to ignore the law or want bush to abandon the free market to save it. It’s criminal government, and I’ll say it every time. I hope that makes more sense,

        • wowFAD

          LMAO — looks like I struck a nerve. You deserved every last syllable of my comment, you silly little bagger. If you wanted someont to reply to your comment REASONABLY, you shouldn’t call the guy “emperor.” If you haven’t figured it out yet, most people on the blog aren’t his biggest fans, but at least we have a legitimate gripe or two. Look at your comment. Absolutely unmitigated rage.

          The President could come up with a cure for cancer that tastes like orgasms and you’d find some way to take issue with it. And by the way, governments absolutely have business in the business of business (buy a Thesaurus, please) — it’s called establishing and enforcing laws that protect employers, employees, consumers, the environment, and the citizenry in general. I know you’ve been brainwashed into not being able to understand that, but it’s still true whether you believe it or not.

          Governments have purpose. It used to be that we argued about how, exactly government ought to function best. Sadly, since the rise of the tea-bagger, there’s a group of unmitigated MORONS who think there should be NO FUNCTIONAL GOVERNMENT, AT ALL. Morons who do stupid shit to muddy the conversation, like calling democratically elected men and women silly little pet names, as if it making your argument cute can somehow compensate for your argument being completely invalid, unsound, and based on suggestions, non-facts, and hearsay.

          If you want people to be nicer to you, don’t start your comments like a belligerent asshole, don’t reply like a belligerent asshole. I would say “stop thinking like a belligerent asshole” but that would imply some THOUGHT took place before now.

          • painkills2

            Hey, wowFAD, what do orgasms taste like? I mean, I’m guessing salty, but…

            (Yeah, that’s all I got. I think I’m better at comedy when I just use memes. Oh, you say you’re ready for another special meme, just for you? Well, okay, if you insist.)
            ————————————-

          • PodBoy

            Again, you’re telling me what I would do, based on the fact that I called obama emperor because that what he acts like? Kind of like somone saying ‘you smoke pot, so you’re a looser who’s on welfare and doesn’t have a job (and plays jazz music or some other stupid thing). I expected by replying with something that could let you consider that you’re behaving like a narrow minded ass hole, you might think ‘wow, yea I totally judged that dude on one word that he used, and real ‘liberal minded’ people don’t do that’. But rather you again claim to be able to look into my soul and tell me what else I’m thinking or what else I would do if this or that. Because ‘us people are all the same’? You are EXACTLY like a racist. Not a racist like ‘you disagree with the president so you’re a racist’, like a REAL racist: “I don’t know anything about this person but this one thing, and I have decided that I know everything that I need to about them, because they’re all the same. You are a despicable kind of human being. and I regret trying to reason with you or think the best of you.

          • wowFAD

            LOLOLLOL — wowowowowow!!! Sorry, skooter, but TEA BAGGER isn’t a race. I can hardly believe you just tried that. That’s AWESOME!!! It’s been so long since someone has suggested something THAT stupid.

            Yes, I judged you on one word. And OH BOY did I hit the nail on the head! HAHAHA

            Seriously, buy a thesaurus. The word you’re looking for is “prejudgment” — not “racist.”

  • wowFAD

    Scam profile for “cole kim” can be found here:

    http://www.clickscams.com/details/11/31

    Same phone number.

  • painkills2

    A scammer talking about other scammers… priceless.

  • Me

    How can the funds from pharmaceutical sales which are deemed a schedule 1 class drug and Illegal outside its prescribed arena enter an agreement with Federal law and constitutions of federal policy banking achieve sanctification, but a more natural medical alternative cannot? Why can you prescribe another schedule 1 narcotic that is sold in an unsuccessful under regulated “Pill Mill” fashion be ok, even though its a greater health risk carries A death rate and has more devastating addictive properties? So your grandpa doesn’t want to smoke his daily joint eat a sucker or cook his pancakes with cannabinoid butter, However destroy his liver and contribute to the decay of a youthful society ignored by our Federal government. Well how can you say that about my law abiding Christian grandfather? He doesn’t contribute to that decay he wishes a life a better alternative for the youth of this nation. Start regulating the sales of Schedule 1 opiates administering healthier pharmaceutical grade medical alternatives now unless we’re overcrowding ourselves here in the USA huh? Not everybody can live forever you know. People are too scared to reflect on a situation of universal proportion because of the fear of it getting too close to home and changing every aspect of our lives as we know it. History is the memory of effect from cause. If what they say is true about history, It repeats itself. Repetition is called routine, doing the same wrong thing continually reaches an effect giving a cause. Its time Americans sit down at the old fashioned kitchen table and talk about what happens outside your doors everyday in our communities and listen to the voice of a person who doesn’t walk the path that leads to the same door you open every morning and close every night. Life is nothing more than the intricate highways we all see being deconstructed and reconstructed everyday. Its nothing but a network of your own human relations drawn from your experiences and abilities relayed to a physical manifestation you can call reality. Nothing is perfect in this world and it never will be but that’s the beauty of life. Marijuana is not more harmful than a cigarette. Marijuana is not more psychologically mind altering than opiates once you hit a bottom of scratching and clawing for one more to keep away the physical pain and emotion. That’s what drives people to steal to cause violence to commit suicide, not marijuana. Remove that from our society and legalize marijuana. Our law is a punishment for a conviction of a crime, who is the all seeing eye? Who watches you and allows you to operate that is perfect and doesn’t break those same laws convictions are given out for? I’ll tell you who doesn’t break a law nobody. We know you are not perfect but we wont condemn you for this. No we wont put you in a prison for killing hundreds of thousands of individuals with what you thought was a good idea at the time. We will just construct a new highway one that is made for us to travel with minor traffic and limited fatalities. Not everybody can afford a Cadillac but everybody should be able to drive down the same highway. This totalitarianism government we are ruled by is not of the census of people with the appropriate wisdom. Consensus what makes appropriation reasonable and non-defaulted is the gathering of multiple avenues of knowledge from every single angle. Being biased only keeps a person ignorant, until you study the reasoning behind why something is the way it is you will never see why it is the way it is. The government doesn’t own me or run me I run me I own me. Who am I a slave to? The obstacle in front me. Our homes our households are our homes they are our households and what goes on in our homes is our business alone. Same as in the streets our streets are our streets this should be our government regulating our streets as the heads of the household regulate the home. Legalize marijuana.

    • Bic

      Mitchell?………lol

  • HCV

    Can you send me some samples ( a small amount).
    You can call me at 352-265-HELP(4357), My name is Kevin. I work at the University of Florida’s Medical School. Ask for my assistant Dea, she will handle all the arrangements. I will be leaving for Uruguay shortly, so please call as soon as possible