Since Washington legalized marijuana in 2012, a major stumbling block for aspiring growers, processors and sellers has been how money in the marijuana industry will be exchanged and kept safe.
KENNEWICK, WA - Since Washington legalized marijuana in 2012, a major stumbling block for aspiring growers, processors and sellers has been how money in the marijuana industry will be exchanged and kept safe.
Banks have taken a hands-off approach. But the Department of Justice released new guidelines Friday for financial institutions about how to address pot businesses looking to open accounts for their earnings.
The DOJ says people can be prosecuted over money from pot sales if they conflict with eight priorities enforcing the Controlled Substance Act.
But if it can't be proven that banks or sellers don't violate the priorities then it might not be prosecuted.
The DOJ say people serving marijuana businesses are possibly likely to "risk entanglement" with federal enforcement. The DOJ recommends to lessen the likelihood of charges for banks and financial institutions, they should continue to apply risk-based policies.
Many banks are cautious about serving marijuana businesses because of the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws.
Gesa Credit Union released a statement to us that their lawyers are reviewing the DOJ statement and they will keep their current policy.
The statement included, "Gesa Credit Union will not open accounts for, accept deposits from, or provide loans to, businesses involved in the production, distribution, or sale of marijuana."
The DOJ says Friday's release doesn't change their authority to enforce federal law. And it's up to financial institutions to "conduct customer due diligence."
But many people are concerned that if there a safe place to deposit money from marijuana business then it may risk crime activity.
This is a continuance of to many uncertainties ahead for the marijuana industry in our state.