In the wake of the shift in federal marijuana enforcement policy, financial institutions have been left to speculate the risk in offering financial services to marijuana-related businesses. While the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued guidance in 2014 that laid out a process for financial institutions to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses, that guidance was premised on the enforcement priorities of the Cole Memo. After last month’s rescission of the Cole Memo, financial institutions have been patiently waiting for any guidance from FinCEN as to how to proceed with providing financial services to marijuana and marijuana-related businesses. And after weeks of waiting, stakeholders are finally receiving confirmation that the FinCEN guidance remains in effect—for now.
In the wake of the Cole Memo rescission, members of Congress have been advocating for FinCEN’s guidance to remain in place. A bipartisan group of 31 members of the House of Representatives jointly sent a letter to FinCEN encouraging the agency to continue following the 2014 guidance. The House members stated in the letter that “FinCEN’s stated priorities have allowed [marijuana] businesses to conduct commerce more safely through financial institutions which reduces the use of all cash, improves public safety, and reduces fraud,” and warned FinCEN that rescinding its guidance would “inject uncertainty into the financial markets.” Continue Reading