The vote, which was 236 to 186, came Tuesday on legislation introduced by Louisiana Representative John Fleming, who was attempting to block the Treasury Department from implementing a memo it issued in February in conjunction with the Justice Department which tells banks that they won’t necessarily run afoul of federal law if they allow cannabis-related businesses to bank with them.
Salal Credit Union has announced that they’ll do business with recreational cannabis outlets in Washington State, allowing them to bank, take out loans and take part in other financial services. Salal is the second credit union, following Numerica Credit Union, to announce that they’ll work with those intending to distribute, process or cultivate cannabis for recreational purposes.
The announcement was made by representative Bob Schweigert at the Marijuana Business Association’s Canna Business & The Law seminar, which took place yesterday in Seattle, during a panel called Managing Your Marijuana Business Money.
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.”
In an announcement that will have deep implications for the newly-legal recreational cannabis industry in Washington State, Bank of America has agreed to be the state’s primary cannabis banker, meaning they’re willing to accept millions of dollars from recreational cannabis sales.
Currently Bank of America is Washington State’s official bank, which handles all of the state’s funds. However, the bank’s 7-year contract with the state runs out on June 30th. Washington asked for bids this month, specifically mentioning that accepting deposits of large amounts of cannabis-money will be a requirement.