Feds issue guidance to banks for new marijuana industry

By: CBS
By: CBS

Washington, DC (CBS) - The federal government took a step Friday toward normalizing marijuana sales in states where the drug is legal, announcing new guidance that would allow banks to “provide services to marijuana related businesses.”

The move, announced by Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which is a part of the U.S. Treasury, will “promote greater financial transparency in the marijuana industry and mitigate the dangers associated with conducting an all-cash business.”

Voters in Colorado and Washington State legalized marijuana for recreational purposes last year, but because of concern about federal banking laws, many financial institutions have declined to do business with the growing industry. The memo, which serves as an official acknowledgement of the legitimacy of marijuana retailers by the federal agency that investigates financial crimes, may help increase the availability of banking options for marijuana business owners.

The memo encourages banks to verify and review a potential client's license to operate, engage in "ongoing monitoring of publicly available sources for adverse information about the business and related activities," and offers examples of "red flags" that the business may be involved in illegal activity.
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