Editorial: Marijuana businesses need legit banking
Federal bank regulators need to open the banking system to state-sanctioned marijuana stores, says The Seattle Times.
Seattle Times Editorial
THE U.S. Department of Justice says it will not interfere with the coming marijuana stores in Washington and Colorado if the stores are well-regulated.
But the U.S. Treasury’s rules effectively bar these stores from the banking system, requiring them to operate like illegal drug dealers. These rules must be changed.
Americans can disagree on whether there should be marijuana stores. But in the states where the people have decided yes, those stores should have the same banking services as other stores for the same reason they have the same police protection. They are part of the community. Requiring all-cash operations creates a risk of robbery that is unacceptable to owners, employees and customers.
At the hearing on marijuana in Congress earlier this week, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole acknowledged this problem. He said the Justice Department is “currently talking with bank regulators” about it.
What’s needed next is a statement by those regulators that they recognize the new federal policy and intend to conform to it.
King County Sheriff John Urquhart spoke at the hearing in Washington, D.C., saying that cash-only stores are a public-safety risk. Newly elected U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., has also been outspoken on it. He has been the “wing man” for Rep. Ed. Perlmutter, D-Co., who has a bill that would solve the problem.
The rest of our delegation has been slow to engage this issue. They need to wake up. That Perlmutter’s bill has little chance to pass is not the point. Support of the Obama administration’s decision is the point. Movement by the federal bureaucracy is the point.
The people of Washington and Colorado have spoken on the issue of legal marijuana, and their delegations need to protect their interests.