Obama Administration Allows Banks To Accept Deposits From Marijuana Vendors

February 14, 2014

Arizona medical marijuana dispensaries would be able to deposit their money in banks under a new policy announced by the Obama Administration on Friday. Banks currently will not accept money from legal marijuana sales, because the drug is illegal at the federal level. The Justice and Treasury Departments issued the new guidelines saying they are intended to increase the availability of financial services for legal marijuana businesses. 

Since pot is still listed as an illegal drug by the federal government, medical marijuana stores in Arizona have had to deal in cash and credit card transactions. Paul Hickman is president of the Arizona Bankers Association, and he is concerned that banks will not be able to get federal deposit insurance if they do business with marijuana vendors who violate federal law.

“There will be banks, plenty of banks that (are) willing to bank legal marijuana businesses, but right now the legal environment just doesn’t accommodate that," said Hickman.

The new regulations require that banks keep track of the products the dispensaries sell. The banks also must make efforts to ensure the marijuana dealers they work with are following all dispensary rules. 

Medical marijuana is currently legal in Arizona and 19 other states plus Washington, D.C.  Both the state of Washington and Colorado allow adults to purchase recreational marijuana under voter approved measures.