|By C.R. Roberts, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Writing to CEOs of state-headquartered banks, Jarvis attached a copy of guidance sent to him by the director of the
He describes the latest sense as, "We can't change the law, but because we're the guys enforcing it, we have no desire or the resources to prosecute folks who are using it in states where it's legal, licensed, regulated and enforced."
Marijuana remains listed as a dangerous drug under federal law.
Early on, Riccobono contacted the
The latest guidance concerns filings that banks are required to make concerning any suspected suspicious activity.
Among obligations banks must attend under the Bank Secrecy Act, there are three types of filings that must be made if a bank suspects any suspicious activities. The first level would have a bank simply explaining that a customer is involved in the industry, and that the industry is legal in
Few banks openly admit to offering services to clients involved with marijuana. The latest information, Riccobono said, could lead to easier access to, and more transparency by, the banking industry.
Banks may certainly hesitate because of moral objections, as they could with offering services to adult bookstores, for example, or perhaps they would decline accepting such clients because they might not want to offend current customers who would object.
But they need not worry about regulators.
And in their reporting, Riccobono said, banks should note that they are required to report clients who are engaged in ancillary businesses related to the marijuana industry.
"If they have knowledge that marijuana is involved, they have to report that," he said.
This would apply, for example, to landlords who have leases with marijuana retailers, or electrical contractors or builders who have engaged in major projects with growers or processors.
"They have to file that. It's a filing," he said.
But Riccobono said he does not expect immediate results. As it is with the credit-card industry, which is not currently copacetic with the marijuana industry, it will be a step-by-step process as the banking industry grows to follow the sentiments of voters in
It's also about the opportunity to earn money.
"The industry is going to be in the billions in the next few years," Riccobono said.
"I firmly believe we will bank this industry."
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