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Last month, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Treasury followed through on long hinted-at guidance intended to provide a roadmap for financial institutions to provide services to state-compliant cannabis businesses. It was a dramatic step in the ongoing effort to give legal marijuana businesses the same access to basic banking services that any other American industry has.
Memos issued by the Department of Justice and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) division of the Department of the Treasury explicitly state their intention to “clarif[y] how financial institutions can provide services to marijuana-related businesses.” This acknowledgement by two cabinet-level departments of the Obama administration that the banking issue needs a resolution shows that the industry is making very real headway in raising the profile and legitimacy of our challenges.
Overall reaction to the memos in the financial sector has been tepid, which underscores the critical need to keep pushing for congressional action. However, in the weeks since the guidance was issued, we have begun to see gradual, quiet progress, as some institutions start to explore the possibilities and opportunities for serving businesses in the industry.
Given the clearly stated intent of Justice and Treasury to create a system allowing banks to serve our industry, we expect those gradual positive developments to continue to accumulate.
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