The Trump administration seems to be making baby steps toward policies that might support the eventual repeal of federal scheduling of cannabis. A top fiscal official has called for marijuana businesses in legal states to be able to store their profits in banks. Up until the present, legal cannabis businesses have not been able to store their profits in banks, pay their employees through checks or accept debit or credit cards due to the fact that despite state allowances, the scheduling of marijuana means a blanket ban on the plant which cuts them out of certain services like banking.
<blockquote>"I assure you that we don't want bags of cash," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified on Tuesday during an appearance before the House Financial Services Committee. "We want to make sure that we can collect our necessary taxes and other things."</blockquote>
Further, Mnuchin has said the Treasury Department is working on a way to work around this issue so that cannabis businesses would be able to access banks due to the potential safety concerns implicit in carrying around bags of cash. This is yet another small step, the last being the loosening of regulations in 2014 under Obama with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) allowing banks to open accounts for marijuana growers under certain circumstances. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is by no means a friend of marijuana and is attempting to restrict states' rights to implement cannabis laws that would be in opposition to current federal laws based on the scheduling of cannabis and derived products.
If the previous regulation is struck down, Mnuchin wants to make sure something exists in its place by the time that happens.
"The intent is not to take it down without a replacement that can deal with the current situation," he said.
Rep Brad Sherman (D-CA) warned that deleting the banking memo would really make it better for armed robbers in my community, because there'd be huge amounts of cash at the local marijuana dispensary." Mnuchin is definitely voicing concern regarding the 2014 memo and the public safety issues that arise.
<blockquote>"We specifically haven't taken it down. We are looking at what Justice has done. And again, as I said, we're sensitive to the issue of dealing with the public safety issue and also making sure that the IRS and others have ways of collecting taxes without taking in cash."</blockquote>
Currently bipartisan support for the banking guidelines to be maintained is apparent. 78 house co-sponsors and 14 senators signed on to the upper house's companion bill is a start, but certainly no sign of a slam dunk decision. Changing attitudes have led to more banks being willing to work with the marijuana industry over time and Mnuchin seems to reflect the changing times himself saying that marijuana businesses' banking and tax issues are "very important" to him.
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