Banks Hold Off On Dealing With Pot Businesses Despite Obama Guidelines


Brian Stroh, one of Washington state’s first licensed marijuana producers, pays for armed security guards to assist him in guarded revenue transport and facility supervision. He's planning to use lockboxes and a variety of other methods to store his money, which he will keep away from his home and place of employment. He's even more worried about the people buying his product, the Oregonian reports. Because the continued federal prohibition of marijuana prevents banks from offering any legal financial services to state-licensed cannabis businesses, his business is “straight up dangerous. Anytime there is a known cash business, it puts everyone at risk.”

Last month, the Obama administration laid out an approved way for banks to work with marijuana businesses without federal intervention. However, federal regulators have not guaranteed banks legal protection from seizure or prosecution, leaving open the possibility financial institutions that serve marijuana-related businesses could be charged with money laundering or unlicensed money transmitting. Bank executives have said that until there is a more concrete change in federal regulatory policy, they will not touch marijuana money. “The guidelines are strictly guidelines,” said James Pishue of the Washington Bankers Association. “If all those guidelines were followed to the teeth, it still remains a fact it's against federal law,” he said. “Following the guidelines will not be a defense against federal action.”

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