New Federal Guidelines Help Banks Deal With Marijuana Businesses

February 17, 2014

Attorneys for some of the state's medical marijuana dispensaries hope some new federal guidelines finally give their clients a chance to put their money in the bank. Selling marijuana to those with a state-issued ID card is legal in Arizona, but remains a crime under federal law. That’s made some banks anxious about federal charges of aiding an illegal enterprise, but on Friday the U.S. Treasury Department issued guidelines for banks dealing with marijuana businesses operating legally in their home states, and while it did not give a legal all-clear, it provides a roadmap of sorts for staying out of trouble.

Attorney Jeffrey Kaufman said there's a great opportunity here for banks that are paying attention.

“If I were a bank, I would immediately start accepting medical marijuana dispensaries as clients because the first one that does will end up representing probably all 126,” Kaufman said.

But it remains to be seen which bank wants to go first.