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Treasury Secretary Defends Obama Administration’s Banking Reforms


obama marijuana bankingEarlier this week United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew defended the Obama Administration’s recently issued guidelines to banks, allowing them to conduct transactions with legal marijuana businesses. Jack Lew was prompted to defend the policy after Republicans questioned why the federal government is allowing such a move. The irony of course is that, despite the guidelines, most banks still don’t work with marijuana businesses because the guidelines don’t go far enough. However, just the thought of marijuana banking was enough to draw some outrage, which resulted in the following statement from Jack Lew:

“Without any guidance, there would be a proliferation of cash-only businesses, and that would make it impossible to see when there are actions going on that violate both federal and state law and that … would be a real concern,” said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. “We thought that the clarity, bringing it into daylight, was a better solution.”

Banking has hindered marijuana businesses from the very beginning of the industry. Prohibiting banks from working with marijuana businesses creates a host of issues. Making these businesses ‘all cash’ entities creates storage problems for the cash that accumulates. This makes marijuana businesses vulnerable to robberies, which is clearly a public safety issue. It also creates logistical issues for the businesses, who are not allowed to use checks or credit cards like other businesses.

Marijuana businesses should be able to work with banks like any other business. It’s good for the banks, because they get more deposits to work with, which in turn allows them to offer more loans and services to all their customers – not just marijuana businesses. Allowing banks to work with marijuana businesses is obviously good for the marijuana industry, but it’s also good for the public as a whole by mitigating the chance for robberies. Other than clinging to failed public policy, what’s the point of keeping a banking ban in place?

Source: International Cannabis Business Conference


About Author

Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the PAC responsible for Measure 91, that ended cannabis prohibition for all Oregon adults in 2014. In addition to helping organize the International Cannabis Business Conference & the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, he also serves as a Board Member of the National Cannabis Coalition, working to legalize cannabis across the country and Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization specifically working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.