Holder Announced A Major Shift On U.S MJ Policy

Jan 24, 2014

U.S. trea­sury and law enforce­ment agen­cies will soon issue reg­u­la­tions open­ing bank­ing ser­vices to state-sanctioned mar­i­juana busi­nesses even though cannabis remains clas­si­fied an ille­gal nar­cotic under fed­eral law, Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder said on Thurs­day. Holder said the new rules would address prob­lems faced by newly licensed recre­ational pot retail­ers in Col­orado, and med­ical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries in other states, in oper­at­ing on a cash-only basis, with­out access to bank­ing ser­vices or credit. Pro­pri­etors of state-licensed mar­i­juana dis­trib­u­tors in Col­orado and else­where have com­plained of hav­ing to pur­chase inven­tory, pay employ­ees and con­duct sales entirely in cash, requir­ing elab­o­rate and expen­sive secu­rity mea­sures and putting them at a high risk of rob­bery. It also makes account­ing for state sales tax-collection pur­poses dif­fi­cult. “You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these places,” Holder told the audi­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Vir­ginia. “They want to be able to use the bank­ing sys­tem. And so we will be issu­ing some reg­u­la­tions I think very soon to deal with that issue.” Holder’s com­ments echoed remarks by his deputy, James Cole, in Sep­tem­ber dur­ing a Sen­ate Judi­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing on Capi­tol Hill. Col­orado this month became the first state to open retail out­lets legally per­mit­ted to sell mar­i­juana to adults for recre­ational pur­poses, in a sys­tem sim­i­lar to what many states have long had in place for alco­hol sales. Wash­ing­ton state is slated to launch its own mar­i­juana retail net­work later this year, and sev­eral other states, includ­ing Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon and Alaska, are expected to con­sider legal­iz­ing recre­ational weed in 2014. The num­ber of states approv­ing mar­i­juana for med­ical pur­poses has also been grow­ing. Cal­i­for­nia was the first in 1996, and has since been fol­lowed by about 20 other states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia. But the fledg­ling recre­ational pot mar­kets in Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton state have sent a new wave of cannabis pro­pri­etors clam­or­ing to obtain loans and make deposits in banks and credit unions. The Jus­tice Depart­ment announced in August that the admin­is­tra­tion would give new lat­i­tude to states exper­i­ment­ing with tax­a­tion and reg­u­la­tion of mar­i­juana. But with the drug still out­lawed at the fed­eral level, banks are barred under money-laundering rules from han­dling pro­ceeds from mar­i­juana sales even in states where pot sales have been made legal. The lack of credit for mar­i­juana busi­nesses, how­ever, poses its own crim­i­nal jus­tice con­cerns, Holder said. “There’s a pub­lic safety com­po­nent to this,” he said. “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.” Holder did not offer any specifics on a time­line for action on bank­ing ser­vices for mar­i­juana. Cole in Sep­tem­ber said the Jus­tice Depart­ment was work­ing on the issue with the Trea­sury Department’s finan­cial crimes enforce­ment net­work. Crit­ics of lib­er­al­ized mar­i­juana laws have said the lack of credit faced by pot retail­ers was beside the point. “We are in the midst of cre­at­ing a cor­po­rate, for-profit mar­i­juana indus­try that has to rely on addic­tion for profit, and that’s a much big­ger issue than whether these stores take Amer­i­can Express,” said Kevin Sabet, co-founder of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Mar­i­juana. Report­ing by David Ingram in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia; Writ­ing by Alex Dobuzin­skis; Edit­ing by Steve Gor­man and Lisa Shu­maker Source: Reuters (Wire) Author: David Ingram, Reuters Pub­lished: Jan­u­ary 24, 2014 Copy­right: 2014 Thom­son Reuters

6baebadd62174242.jpg 150x100 Holder Announced A Major Shift On U.S MJ Policy

Read the orig­i­nal post:
Holder Announced A Major Shift On U.S MJ Policy

Related Posts

Leave a Comment