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Legal pot states banking on Thursday secret panel meeting

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  • Legal pot states banking on Thursday secret panel meeting

    Aspiring legal marijuana producers and vendors in Colorado and Washington state have a lot riding on a closed-door meeting today held by an obscure Treasury Department group, which faces some interesting constitutional issues about a “growing” industry.

    The meeting in Washington, D.C., involves the Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group, an advisory panel first set up by then Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen in 1994. The panel, known as BSAAG, evaluates issues related to money laundering.

    In August, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department wouldn’t criminally prosecute recreational marijuana users and state-approved growers and vendors in Colorado and Washington, after the two states passed legalization referendums in 2012.

    However, marijuana is still illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Holder, in his memo, established new guidelines for federal prosecutors in all states to follow for federal marijuana cases.

    His decision averted one constitutional issue for now, about states that pass laws that seemingly contradict federal laws. But another one remains unresolved.

    BSAAG is involved because approved marijuana cultivators, producers and vendors in Colorado and Washington can’t set up legal bank accounts, because banks believe they could be implicated as money launders, since marijuana sales are still illegal nationally. And pot vendors can’t process retail credit and debit card transactions, for the same reason.

    Legalized pot sales are set to become a reality next month in two states. Since the legally approved growers and vendors are forced to do business on a cash-only basis, some politicians believe criminal elements will enter the states’ marijuana business.

    “Forcing legitimate businesses to operate on a cash-only basis without bank accounts is an invitation for robbery, tax evasion and organized crime. With 21 states and D.C. now allowing for some form of legal adult marijuana usage, federal law needs to be updated to reflect the reality of the situation in the states,” said two Representatives, Denny Heck and Earl Perlmutter, in July, when they introduced banking legislation to protect legal marijuana growers from federal charges.

    The Seattle Times says the Thursday meeting is behind closed doors and not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, so some frank talk is expected.

    In November, a top federal fraud enforcement official said in a public speech that the state-federal law conflict about marijuana would be discussed at Thursday’s meeting.

    “We understand that [the banking] industry is calling for additional clarity on how DOJ’s policy pertains to the federal regulatory oversight of depository institutions providing banking services to duly operating, state regulated marijuana dispensaries,” said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the director of the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (or FinCEN).

    “The issue is a complicated one given that federal law still applies in those states. We have already initiated discussions with our DOJ colleagues,” she said.

    What happens after Thursday’s meeting is a guessing game at this point.

    More at Link
    May we raise children who love the unloved things - the dandelion, the worm, the spiderlings.
    Children who sense the rose needs the thorn and run into rainswept days the same way they turn towards the sun...
    And when they're grown and someone has to speak for those who have no voice,
    may they draw upon that wilder bond, those days of tending tender things and be the one.

  • #2
    It'll be interesting to see what comes of this. I fully support the right of the states to regulate marijuana growth, sales and use and think the Feds should step out of the way in states where it's legalized. The War on Drugs is a mighty powerful force, however, and may put up roadblocks to keep their flow of cash incoming.
    “Any sufficiently advanced capitalism is indistinguishable from rent seeking.” ~ =j


    • #3
      Well, it's nice to see that Eric Holder suddenly trumpets states' rights.

      Now, about Arizona....
      It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
      In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
      Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
      Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now