Pubdate: Sat, 15 Feb 2014
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2014 Associated Press
Author: Pete Yost, Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration on Friday gave banks a 
roadmap for doing business with legal marijuana sellers without 
getting into trouble, another step by the federal government toward 
enabling a legalized marijuana industry to operate in states that approve it.

The guidance issued by the Justice Department and Treasury Department 
is intended to increase the availability of financial services for 
legal marijuana businesses that are licensed and regulated, while 
preserving the government's enforcement power.

Washington and Colorado in 2012 became the first states in the nation 
to approve recreational use of marijuana. A citizens' group is hoping 
to make Alaska the third state to do so.

Currently, processing money from marijuana sales puts federally 
insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges, and they 
therefore refuse to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses.

Friday's move will allow banks and other financial institutions to 
serve marijuana-related businesses while ensuring that they know 
their customers' legitimacy and remain obligated to report possible 
criminal activity, the Treasury Department said.

States' legalization of marijuana prompted the Financial Crimes 
Enforcement Network, a Treasury Department office, "to move from the 
shadows the historically covert financial operations of marijuana 
businesses," said office director Jennifer Shasky Calvery.

FinCEN writes the rules that U.S. financial institutions must follow 
to help protect the U.S. financial system from money laundering and 
the financing of terrorism.
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