Now that marijuana for recreational use is doing booming business in Colorado where it’s legal (with Washington State to join it eventually) the federal government is getting around to answering some weighty questions. Namely, how will it deal with the revenue coming in from pot sales?
United States Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday that the federal government is working on new regulations that would make it easier in those states for businesses dealing in legal marijuana to have access to banks, reports USA Today, which is likely welcome news in Colorado and Washington.
Holder told an audience at the University of Virginia that Justice and Treasury department officials will soon issue the new guidelines in order to try to help banks decide what to do in situations involving legal marijuana businesses.
“It’s an attempt to deal with the reality that exists in these states,” Holder explained, referencing not only Washington and Colorado but the 18 other where marijuana is legal for medical use, as well as Washington, D.C..
“There is a public safety component to this,” he said. “And you don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these places. They want to be able to use the banking system… . 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 from just a law enforcement perspective.”
And besides the piles of cash lying around being an inconvenience for those banks, it’s not so easy for marijuana businesses to even convince banks to deal with them in the first place. Because while certain states can legalize pot for either medical use or just recreation, federally insured institutions were feeling a bit squirrelly about accepting drug money.
Officials in Washington State had been wondering whether or not Bank of America will take its tax revenue funds from pot for fear of getting in trouble with the feds. And in Colorado, many owners of pot businesses had to pay taxes in cash because banks refuse to do business with them for the same reason.