Earlier this week United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew defended the Obama Administration’s recently issued guidelines to banks, allowing them to conduct transactions with legal marijuana businesses. Jack Lew was prompted to defend the policy after Republicans questioned why the federal government is allowing such a move. The irony of course is that, despite the guidelines, most banks still don’t work with marijuana businesses because the guidelines don’t go far enough. However, just the thought of marijuana banking was enough to draw some outrage, which resulted in the following statement from Jack Lew:
“Without any guidance, there would be a proliferation of cash-only businesses, and that would make it impossible to see when there are actions going on that violate both federal and state law and that … would be a real concern,” said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. “We thought that the clarity, bringing it into daylight, was a better solution.”
Banking has hindered marijuana businesses from the very beginning of the industry. Prohibiting banks from working with marijuana businesses creates a host of issues. Making these businesses ‘all cash’ entities creates storage problems for the cash that accumulates. This makes marijuana businesses vulnerable to robberies, which is clearly a public safety issue. It also creates logistical issues for the businesses, who are not allowed to use checks or credit cards like other businesses.
Marijuana businesses should be able to work with banks like any other business. It’s good for the banks, because they get more deposits to work with, which in turn allows them to offer more loans and services to all their customers – not just marijuana businesses. Allowing banks to work with marijuana businesses is obviously good for the marijuana industry, but it’s also good for the public as a whole by mitigating the chance for robberies. Other than clinging to failed public policy, what’s the point of keeping a banking ban in place?