The Obama administration has given the banking industry the green light to finance and do business with legal marijuana sellers, a move the Washington Post says could further legitimize the burgeoning industry. For the first time, legal distributors will be able to secure loans and set up checking and savings accounts with major banks that have largely steered clear of those businesses. The decision eliminates a key hurdle facing marijuana sellers, who can now legally conduct business in 20 states and the District.
The Treasury Department issued rules that could make it easier for banks to do business with marijuana dispensers. The Justice Department directed U.S. attorneys not to pursue banks that do business with legal marijuana dispensers if the dealers adhere to federal guidelines. An administration official acknowledged the decision could draw legal protests from anti-legalization groups. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “Marijuana trafficking is illegal under federal law, and it's illegal for banks to deal with marijuana sale proceeds under federal law. Only Congress can change these laws. The administration can't change the law with a memo.”