State Regulator: Pot Banking ‘Guidance’ Should Solve ‘Bags Of Money’ Issue

By Austin Jenkins

Marijuana businesses in Washington may soon be able to open a bank account. The Obama administration Friday issued new guidance to banks regarding drug proceeds. The three-page Department of Justice memo signals that banks that do business with licensed, above-board marijuana businesses likely won’t face prosecution. Rick Garza heads Washington’s Liquor Control Board. He welcomes the news.

Rick Garza: “You can’t have people walking around with bags of cash trying to find someone who will take it as a deposit or trying to pay their taxes or fees. So this provides the services that all our licensees will need for financing.”

The question is how many banks will be willing to work with marijuana businesses without clear protection under the law. Garza says he’s confident that enough will to meet demand. The Washington Bankers Association says the guidance is an “important first step” but the decision to open accounts for marijuana businesses will be made on a bank-by-bank basis.

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