Thursday, August 18, 2022

Treasury Agency Befuddled By Jeff Sessions’ Latest Anti-Cannabis Move

When Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, a policy that staved law enforcement from raiding compliant cannabis operations in legal states, he neglected to first alert the Treasury agency of the news. The memo had addressed banking procedures, stating that if the financial institution believed the organization to be legitimate, they could do business with them.

So what about now?

According to Reuters, around 400 banks currently work within the marijuana economy, most of them smaller and confined to the states where they do business. Calls came rolling into the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which is under the US Treasury Department umbrella, mostly from congress persons, wondering how best to serve their constituents.

It remains to be seen what will happen next. Cannabis is still a Schedule I drug on the federal level, making it technically illegal despite states’ rights. As far as the feds are concerned, weed is in the same category as heroin, a placement that infers no medicinal value and a high rate of abuse.

Currently, 30 states plus Washington DC have passed laws that legalize marijuana, either for recreational or medicinal use. That’s a lot of constituents to worry about, most of whom have already made their voices heard via ballot or petition.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a hardcore anti-cannabis stance. Last year he formed a committee in order to find harm in cannabis, with less-than-tepid results. It looks like this year he’s looking to further stir the pot with his Cole memo rescindment.

Reuters also reported that The Justice Department declined comment on the oversight of reporting to FinCEN about the decision before announcing it. Embarrassed much? Though Jeff Sessions clearly wants cannabis to go away and is playing chess with the pieces he has on the board, but so far his policy shift hasn’t prompted any crackdowns, knock wood.

When FinCEN gave their recommendations to banks in 2014, one year after the Cole memo was issued, they required that banks report suspicious activity, but advised that if a business was above board they could make the decision whether or not to do business with them. Let’s just hope the next issued advice is at least that permissive.


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