US Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday that the Obama Administration will announce regulations that allow banks to do business with legal sellers of marijuana.
Holder made an appearance at the University of Virginia on Thursday, 1/23/14, and highlighted the concern of what to do with all the cash generated at dispensaries. ”You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these places. They want to be able to use the banking system…There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash—substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited is something that would worry me, just from a law enforcement perspective.”
The decision comes in the wake of the recent legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado and Washington state. Until now, banks have refused to deal with pot-related businesses out of fears that they will be engaging in money laundering practices. The move to allow banks to accept this cash is now being worked out by both the Justice and Treasury Departments.
Holder told the audience that the new regulations were likely to come to fruition “very soon,” but made sure to reiterate that they should not be interpreted as the federal government being in support of further marijuana legalization efforts. ”It is an attempt to deal with a reality that exists in these states,” he said.
Holder did not specify whether the rules would apply only in the states which have broadly legalized marijuana, or also to states which have legalized it for medicinal use.
In August, the attorney general announced the Obama Administration would not oppose or interfere with the Colorado and Washington state measures. He also issued an opinion that prosecutors should ease drug sentencing guidelines, citing that the harshly punitive mandatory minimums were a waste of resources and were ineffective. He said federal drug agents would continue to leave most drug law enforcement to local authorities and would focus on large drug operations, setting priorities that appeared to make it unlikely the feds would engage in aggressive enforcement in the states which have legalized pot.