The federal government may issue guidance giving banks a “yellow light” to work with marijuana businesses, possibly in the first quarter of 2014, a high-ranking state official said Thursday. The development was welcomed by marijuana industry officials who have long pushed for a banking fix, but banking industry leaders were skeptical that mere limited guidance will change much.
Jack Finlaw, chief legal counsel to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, said the new regulations “will give maybe not a green light but a yellow light” for banks to begin allowing cannabusiness owners to start banking legitimately. Until now many banks have operated with a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy when it comes to doing business with the cannabis industry. The proposed regulations would remove the requirement that banks report customers who are engaged in illegal activity to the federal government, and since cannabis is illegal under federal law most banks have been reluctant to openly do business with the cannabis industry. Removing this requirement will move the emerging legal cannabis industry in the U.S. one step closer to the mainstream.