Treasury Approves Bank Accounts for Pot Businesses. Will Banks Go Along?

Dispensary Owner Linda Andrews shows off the grow room located right inside the Lodo Wellness Center on Jan. 1. Photograph by Gene Tewksbury/Demotix/Corbis

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network on Friday approved the opening of bank accounts for marijuana businesses, which have been operating on a cash-only basis. The guidance is part of the regulatory tango that has developed as 20 states have legalized at least some form of marijuana, which still remains illegal at the federal level. The new memo is the banking twin to what’s known as the Cole Memo, a 2013 guidance from Deputy Attorney General James Cole that said the Justice Department will pursue criminal cases only against businesses that violate one of eight conditions, such as selling to minors.

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