The Obama administration has decided that state-sanctioned pot dispensaries should have access to the US banking system, even though marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Details remain scant at the moment, but Holder said the new rules will help marijuana growers and retailers, in the 20 states that have legalized the drug for recreational or medical use, operate beyond a cash only basis.
Currently, proprietors of pot dispensaries are forced to keep large amounts of cash on hand to purchase inventory, pay employees and make transactions, rendering them optimal targets for robbery.
It also gums up book keeping for state-level tax collection.
“You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these places. [Marijuana sellers] want to be able to use the banking system,” Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday.
“There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash—substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited – is something that would worry me, just from a law enforcement perspective.”
Processing money from marijuana sales, however, puts federally insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges, making the entire industry a no-go zone for the industry.
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