New Marijuana Memo Changes Nothing for Credit Unions

The U.S. Department of Justice has decided not to challenge state marijuana laws, but credit unions still will have to comply with federal reporting requirements if they open accounts for marijuana businesses.

The decision, announced last Thursday in DAG Memo 8-29-13, provides guidance regarding marijuana enforcement and provides insight into the department’s investigative and prosecutorial efforts.

The memo also makes it clear that the department will not challenge individual states’ marijuana laws as long as the laws meet the department’s enforcement priorities:

  • Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors.
  • Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.
  • Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states.
  • Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity.
  • Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.
  • Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use.
  • Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands.
  • Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

It’s important to note, though, that while the department will not interfere with state marijuana laws, it does still consider marijuana a controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act. Last week’s decision doesn’t change that, and it has no effect on Bank Secrecy Act reporting requirements. Credit unions must still comply with those requirements if they open an account for a marijuana business.

For credit unions, the memo changes nothing when it comes to banking for marijuana accounts.


Questions? Contact the Compliance Hotline: 1.800.546.4465,

Posted in Compliance News.