A solution to the pot industry’s lack of banking services apparently wasn’t found at a closed-door meeting today of high-level regulators, law enforcement and industry representatives in Washington, D.C.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said he understood the urgency of the problem and the “serious challenges” facing an all-cash, legal pot industry that would exist in Colorado and Washington states without banking services.
But, responding to questions from U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, Lew wouldn’t commit to a timeline to fix the dilemma.
Banks now refuse to provide services to legal marijuana businesses because of the federal prohibition of all marijuana. Some in the pot industry hope regulators and law enforcement can come up with a solution short of a congressional change to drug laws, which is not expected any time soon.
Treasury spokesman Stephen Hudak confirmed a lengthy conversation took place today among members of the Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group (BSAAG), a group of regulators, law officers and bankers that convenes at least twice a year to evaluate financial laws and rules.
But Hudak said he couldn’t comment on details of the meeting. Under federal law, the meetings are closed to the media to assist the frank exchange of ideas, he said, between financial industries, law enforcement and regulators. The BSAAG routinely deals with issues such as the federal money-laundering law.
“These are complex issues that will require a lot of time and talent to work through,” Hudak said.More