Where Is The Future For Marijuana Banking Reform?

depenalized_mjThe election of Donald Trump coincided with a whirlwind of activity surrounding marijuana policy, as voters in eight states decided in favor of initiatives regulating the distribution of cannabis for either medical or non-medical purposes.

Yet despite this statewide progress, the specter of marijuana prohibitionists such as Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions being appointed to federal offices in the new administration has justifiably left advocates, including NORML, uneasy.

But this week, Trump nominee for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, bucked this trend — indicated that he is open to the idea of working with financial regulatory agencies to level the playing field for local marijuana businesses.

Currently, state-licensed marijuana business face a web of conflicting regulations. Specifically, federal prohibitions largely prohibit these businesses from working with financial institutions, processing credit cards, and taking standard business deductions. When asked about these financial hurdles, Mnuchin stated, “I will work with Congress and the President to determine which provisions of the current tax code should be retained, revised or eliminated to ensure that all individuals and businesses compete on a level playing field.”

No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to reliable banking solutions. While it is encouraging to see that a small but growing number financial operators are beginning to provide necessary services to those engaged in state-compliant cannabis commerce, it is self-evident that this industry will remain severely hampered without better access to credit and financing.  

But while Mnuchin’s statements may indicate a step in the right direction, ultimately, the responsibility is upon Congress — not upon the US Treasury Department or upon state lawmakers — to change federal policy so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

There will be a number of pieces of legislation introduced in Congress to address these federal banking issues in the near future, and NORML will notify you as further developments unfold.

Please make sure to join our email list to receive our action alerts. 

As the nation’s largest and oldest consumer rights group, NORML is committed to supporting efforts that provide a safe, convenient, aboveground market for cannabis consumers, and that allow local entrepreneurs to enter the marketplace free from undue federal interference.

17 thoughts

  1. When the nominee for Treasury Secretary said “all individuals and businesses”, presumably he meant all LEGAL businesses? And all NON-FELON, NON-INCARCERATED individuals? Because, and forgive me for being cautious here, isn’t that the real crux of the matter?

    I’m only going by that one quote by Steve Mnuchin. Sounds extremely general. Perhaps there was a context that makes it a more positive indication than I am hearing. (I understand the question was specifically about marijuana businesses. But did Mnuchin himself say anything specific about marijuana businesses, or was it just… businesses?)

    I must be the “Negative Nancy” one of the other commentators was whining about, because when Trump appoints a nominee for Treasury Secretary, I say you better examine that one real close! I don’t have the expertise to make that financial analysis, but you’d have to be a fool to think that Trump doesn’t have his own personal financial gains foremost in his mind!

    [Paul Armentano responds: For better clarity, here is the transcript of the full exchange:

    Q: Will you commit to maintaining the 2014 Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance to financial institutions that allows them to work with regulated marijuana-related businesses, while increasing transparency and improving public safety?
    A: If confirmed I will work with your office to review the 2014 FinCEN guidance.

    Q: Do you support further changes to the tax code and banking law to ensure that these business can operate on a level playing field with other industries?
    A: This is a very important issue. If confirmed, I will work with Congress and the President to determine which provisions of the current tax code should be retained, revised or eliminated to ensure that all individuals and businesses compete on a level playing field.]

    1. Thanks, Paul.

      Still sounds to me like he’s waiting for marching orders from Trump, Pence and Sessions. (Trump, Pence, and Sessions: sounds like a folk-rock trio from the Sixties, doesn’t it? Like Peter, Paul, and Mary? Only, from the dark side?) Maybe even he doesn’t know quite what to expect from Trump.

      Me, figuring that Trump wants to be America’s Slumlord, he wants to corner the marijuana market, not legalize it. What does that mean in practice? Harder to say.

      I’m not calm yet!

    2. I’m with Mark.. the first answer commits nothing and the second admits nothing…
      This is like when Sessions say Congress needs to pass a law… He’s not saying he wishes it were so,, he’s saying it’s going to be a cold day in.

    3. Again in order to win. In order to move forward. Look at your self it’s pathetic. Now shake it off…Wake up ..We need true strong movement present viable solutions…We already know the challenges…At least some of us get it…presentation bring your A game. This bitching about know problems is not how to bring change this isn’t Obama administration ….Get on board! Or your just a troll trying to break this movement. Please wake up.
      There is always a way.

      1. You having a “Trump Psychosis” episode. Stay calm. Put down the firearms. Good. There’s nobody at the door but prohibitionist jack-booted thugs, and they will kill you if you attempt to exercise your right to self-defense. That’s on you, man. You brought that on yourself. Freedom and Liberty, my ass.

        Take a deep breath; now get a grip on the difference between “facts” and “alternative facts”: facts are real, while alternative facts are bullshit. How many fingers am I holding up? Oh god, we’re losing him…

        Hang on, help is on the way — all stripes of patriotic Americans are ramping up to protect America from being plundered by Trump.

  2. Guess it will be a wait and see game like always. Sounds promising but till the fat lady sings, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    1. The Fat Lady sang in Dvorak’s comic opera, “The Devil and Kathy”, written in the late 1890’s after working three years in the USA. In 1904 he allegedly died of pulmonary embolism, possibly caused by nicotine $igar overdoses; if cannabis microdosage technology had existed then perhaps he could have lived long enough to help prevent World War I.
      Recent political events suggest many disasters that can be prevented by banking reforms emabling cannabis administration equipment manufacturing and marketing (elimination of the tobackgo $igarette marketing format which has caused 200,000,000 deaths since 1853).

  3. It is integral that we work with our Reps and Senators whether they are Republican or Democrat on the issue of cannabanking. Remember to research your Congressman, state or federal, before contacting them. There is always an economic angle for cannabis legalization that can benefit any passion or cause a Congressman believes in.

    When speaking to your federal house representative, dont forget HR331:
    If we can’t convince legislators to adopt some basic cannibanking legislation we can at least encourage them to continue support for to continue the Rorhabacher-Farr amendment in April which prohibits prohibition so to speak… keeps the DOJ from spending tax dollars on state legalization.
    But proposed legislation HR331 goes straight to the heart of where the money is at for drugwarriors like Sen. Jeff Sessions: Asset forfeitures. If state revenue ever has a chance to beat prohibition at the federal level, this is the bill to do it.
    Talking points: Fincen provided guidelines from the Cole memos and it worked.
    If Sherriff’s Associations can use our tax dollars to lobby your office to say sick children should go to jail for consuming a non toxic, non lethal plant, then perhaps it’s time to make them solve real crimes and murders and take away their asset forfeitures.

  4. Anyone thinking there will be anything short of a total revocation of ANY TYPE of marijuana laws recreational and medical law alike…any person thinking otherwise is totally delusional!

    We have no rights under Trump, Pence, Sessions. Congress will rubber stamp anything coming from this special ED trio. WAIT …..I’M SORRY that especially rude to all special ED citizens. I do apologize!

    1. I would have thought so too-
      but, get a load of this:

      1) there is too much MONEY to be made
      and Trump likes making money,
      and improving the economy is one of the single best moves that can be done to score success points as President.

      2) Look at this-
      “I always end up on the more liberal position than anyone else, particularly on marijuana,” Garnett said. “I think one of the things that happens is that many of the people in states where there is no legalization have a complete misunderstanding of states like Colorado. If nothing else, I’m able to say, ‘Wait a minute, this is a huge business in Colorado, it is largely supported by the editorial boards, polls show it was being very popular, and by and large we have not seen an impact on crime rates. For somebody from Missouri or South Carolina to tell Colorado how to handle an issue of its own choice like legalization of marijuana is not only bad policy, but it fails to respect the importance of local control and state rights.”


      1. Trump doesn’t care about that shit — he’s there to get rich. He has allied himself with similar-minded individuals, all of whom oppose prohibition.

        Here’s a prediction for you: Trump is trying to be Slumlord of America, and therefore, will not be trying to legalize the cannabis market, he’s be trying to corner the illegal market, and then turn Sessions loose on us.

        Trump don’t give a fuck about you, me, Democracy, or America herself, Ben.

      2. I misspoke, apologies — I meant to say Trump and allies all oppose “legalization” (not “prohibition.” Sorry for the confusion.

      3. If you read Stan Garnett’s comments “between the lines” you can see that he’s responding to prohibitionist pressure from the rest of the committee.

        That’s where the pressure lies; that strongly suggests that hammer is about to come down.

        Ben, let me tell you — I would love to be wrong about all this! And if I am, I will celebrate my error with the finest bud!

        But let’s not get played for suckers! Even if the dispensaries survive for another year, that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet.

        Look, man. You can see our enemies amassing. You can hear their battle cries. That part ain’t going away anytime soon — not until we defeat them, and for good this time!

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