Cannabis businesses wanting the ability to bank legitimately are likely to get at least a “yellow light” allowing them to do so as soon as the new year, says Jack Finlaw, Chief Legal Counsel for Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.
“What we’re being told,” says Finlaw, “is probably in the first quarter of 2014 there will be some guidance issued that’s comparable to the Cole memo from the Department of Justice that will give, maybe not a green light, but a yellow light to banks to allow them to do business [with cannabis businesses] — to take deposits, to set up checking accounts, to set up small business loans, to allow these businesses to accept purchases through debit cards or credit cards, to allow what normal businesses are allowed to do.”
Just last week, the Bank Secrecy Advisory Group held a meeting in D.C. to begin talks about reforming banking regulations so that banks can legally do business with cannabis outlets.
Thursday’s news follows a DOJ announcement in August that it is “actively considering” how to regulate interactions between banks and cannabis retail outlets that are operating in states where they’re legal.
Given that numerous retail outlets are planning to begin selling recreational cannabis in Colorado on January 1st, we expect further news on this issue to come sooner, rather than later.