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Team Obama Decides To Ignore Banking Laws Regarding Marijuana

Written By : William Teach
February 15, 2014

Another day, another lawless pronouncement from the Obama administration

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(AP) The Obama administration on Friday gave banks a road map for conducting transactions with legal marijuana sellers so these new businesses can stash away savings, make payroll and pay taxes like any other enterprise. It’s not clear banks will get on board.

Guidance issued by the Justice and Treasury departments is the latest step by the federal government toward enabling a legalized marijuana industry to operate in states that approve it. The intent is to make banks feel more comfortable working with marijuana businesses that are licensed and regulated.

Let’s be clear: it is against federal law to sell marijuana, which is a schedule 1 drug. There are numerous criminal and regulatory roadblocks to financial institutions doing business with drug dealers. A drug dealer is considered a criminal under federal law, and cannot open a bank account, cash checks, nor accept credit cards. And we were told, at least when it came to illegal immigration, that federal law trumps state law. Working with the marijuana sellers would open the banks to racketeering charges. Yet, here is the Justice Department (sic) relaxing the rules, and simply requiring banks to file reports that “satisfy regulatory obligations in this area”.

Once again, the Obama administration is simply doing whatever they want, federal law be damned.

Unsurprisingly, despite their violations of the law, Team Obama’s plan isn’t a particularly good one

But a leading financial services trade group immediately expressed misgivings and others, too, said the guidelines don’t go far enough in protecting banks.

“After a series of red lights, we expected this guidance to be a yellow one,” said Don Childears, president and CEO of the Colorado Bankers Association. “This isn’t close to that. At best, this amounts to ‘serve these customers at your own risk’ and it emphasizes all of the risks. This light is red.”

There are also huge regulatory and monitoring burdens place on the financial institutions. More red tape. Which means more work and costs.

But in response, the American Bankers Association said “guidance or regulation doesn’t alter the underlying challenge for banks. As it stands, possession or distribution of marijuana violates federal law, and banks that provide support for those activities face the risk of prosecution and assorted sanctions.”

The group says banks will only be comfortable serving marijuana businesses if federal prohibitions on the drug are changed in law.

Oh, come on, guys, Team Obama is a law unto themselves!

In fact, several Congress Critters have submitted legislation, led by Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) and Denny Heck (WA – 10), designed to deal with the marijuana banking issue. Of course, marijuana would still be illegal under federal law, and would create a situation where there would be unequal treatment under the law.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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