The Feb. 24 column "Banks must just say no to drug money," by Robert B. Charles, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement, was full of inaccuracies and highly suspect legal analysis.
We can start with his assertion that marijuana is more dangerous — and even more addictive — than tobacco. Saying this in 2014 essentially puts Mr. Charles in the Flat Earth Society. Beyond that, his belief that banks, acting in accordance with Justice Department guidance, will be sued for allegedly wrongful acts by their state-regulated cannabis business customers does not seem to have any legal basis. Is Mr. Charles aware of any lawsuits along the lines of those he has outlined — suits filed against banks that have paid fines for money laundering? I'm not.
Mr. Charles was a government official involved in reducing the illegal drug trade. As such, one would think that he would support state efforts to take the marijuana industry out of the hands of drug cartels and allow state-regulated businesses to control production and sales, with tax revenues being produced for the state. Instead, Mr. Charles is using his former title to scare banks away from bringing the marijuana industry above ground and into a regulated system.
National Cannabis Industry Association