Regulators Respond to Inslee on Marijuana Banking

Read the joint letter here.

In a joint letter to Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Wednesday, the federal agencies that regulate financial institutions said they are reviewing February guidance from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) about what banks should do to comply with the Banking Secrecy Act when providing services to marijuana-related businesses.

In the letter, which was a response to a May letter from Governor Inslee and the Governor of Colorado, the agencies said that they are in the process of reviewing the FinCEN guidance and related guidance from the Department of Justice for inclusion in their manual governing BSA and anti-money-laundering examinations.

“However,” they said in the letter, “further clarity from Congress on the legal treatment of state-licensed marijuana-related businesses under federal law would provide greater legal certainty for both marijuana-related businesses and banks and credit unions.”

Governor Inslee’s Director of Media Relations Jaime Smith said, “The governor is very encouraged by their willingness to work with our state’s financial institutions so they may provide I-502 businesses with access to safe banking services instead of having to operate solely with cash.”

Echoing the letter’s call for greater legislative clarity, Smith said that it is “vital that Congress consider the bill from Reps. Perlmutter and Heck, which would give our financial institutions greater certainty in working with these legitimate businesses.”

According to Rep. Perlmutter’s office, the bill, called the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act, “would allow banks, credit unions and other depository institutions the legal clearance to provide banking services to a marijuana-related legitimate business, ensuring these businesses do not have to operate on a cash-only basis.”

The letter was signed by the heads of the National Credit Union Association, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Federal.