Drug Legalization

Bankers Still Wary of Accepting Legal Marijuana Trade Money

New DOJ memo not enough of a comfort


One Colorado bank, Pueblo Bank & Trust, does not even allow its ATMs to be placed in or near marijuana businesses, presumably because it does not want customers to use cash from the machines to buy cannabis. "Marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law," PB&T President Mike Seppala told The Pueblo Chieftain last week, "and that's the bank's policy."

Because growing and selling marijuana remain federal felonies, providing financial services to businesses engaged in those activities can be viewed as money laundering or aiding and abetting drug trafficking. Holder can announce that such prosecutions should not be a high priority for U.S. attorneys, but they won't necessarily listen, and the policy can be changed at any moment, by this administration or the next. Without new federal legislation, banks accepting marijuana money will always be taking a legal risk.