Trump Treasury Secretary Wants Marijuana Money In Banks
Trump’s top fiscal official seems to support marijuana money being stored in banks. Steven Mnuchin testified on Tuesday during an appearing before the House Financial Services Committee.
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“I assure you that we don’t want bags of cash,” he said, “We want to make sure that we can collect our necessary taxes and other things.”
Mnuchin responded to a series of questions from lawmakers who raised concerns about public safety due to marijuana money being kept out of banks and transactions handled primarily on an all-cash basis. He noted that the Treasury Department is currently deciding on the best course of action to deal with the issue.
Dispensaries have been the targets of various armed robberies. Because marijuana remains a schedule 1 drug on the federal level, banks are hesitant to do business with cannabis companies, for fear of facing prosecution. This results in dispensaries being forced to do business with cash only, which leads to large amounts of cash on site and therefore, vulnerability to crime.
Under to Obama administration, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued guidance that allowed banks to open accounts for marijuana growers, processors and retails without fear of running into issues with federal regulators.
However, Jeff Sessions announcement that he is rescinding the Cole Memo, made last month, has created uncertainty, in more ways that one. Banks are now even more hesitant to deal with marijuana money as it remains unclear whether Sessions’ actions will overturn the guidance set forth under Obama.
The Cole Memo prevented federal law enforcement agencies from interfering in legal marijuana business in states where it has been legalized. Banks are now worried that they have no protection against federal involvement should they choose to deal in marijuana money.
At the Tuesday hearing, Mnuchin confirmed that the Treasury Department is "reviewing the existing guidance." But he clarified that he doesn't want to rescind it without having an alternate policy in place to address public safety concerns.
"The intent is not to take it down without a replacement that can deal with the current situation," he said.
It seems that marijuana money is safe, for now at least. However, it remains to be seen the shape in which new guidance will take should Trump’s Treasury Secretary decide to replace the guidance set forth under Obama.