- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Federal laws tying marijuana money with money laundering has banks turning away marijuana businesses.

While marijuana businesses will be able to get licenses and make sales starting May 2016 in Alaska, the cash involved is still taboo for banks, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported (https://bit.ly/1OLJdbZ).

A designation at the same level of heroin in the Controlled Substances Act means bankers don’t want to take the risk of handling money from pot businesses.

Alaska Marijuana Industry Association vice-president Brandon Emmett is an industry representative on Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board.

“It’s not that (banks are) anti-marijuana,” he said. “They see the green rush. They see millionaires being made overnight in other states. But banks are risk averse. They last thing a banker wants is to be under the hammer of the federal government for money laundering.”

He says legislation is being considered to handle the issue. Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young proposed a bill that would reclassify marijuana, recognize its medical uses and protect those complying with state marijuana laws from being prosecuted.

Young co-sponsored a bill by a California Republican that offered similar protections for people complying with state pot laws.

An Oregon Democrat proposed a law dealing specifically with banking and marijuana. The law would protect financial institutions that accept deposits from marijuana businesses.

Emmett says as these laws slowly progress, some Colorado banks are forgoing federal insurance protection to sidestep potential money laundering violations.

“Something we’ve seen in Colorado is some state institutions, not federally insured, popping up and accepting the risk and reward for all the money the canni-businesses are going to make,” Emmett said.


Information from: (Anchorage) Alaska Journal of Commerce, https://www.alaskajournal.com

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