Medical marijuana: Providing bank services 'is riskier than ever' without federal law change

Medical marijuana: Providing bank services ‘is riskier than ever’ without federal law change

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Buy Now JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World file OKLAHOMA CITY — State banking officials told lawmakers that they’ve struggled with adapting to Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry because federal law still considers cannabis a Schedule I drug. “I keep trying to think of ways to get around this. I’ll be damned if I can,” Roger Beverage, who leads the Oklahoma Bankers Association, said to the legislative working group on medical marijuana. “The only solution to this problem,” Beverage said, is for the federal government to amend its classification for marijuana. Without that, he warned, “the confusion and public risk will continue.” When Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, asked Beverage whether he had requests for legislation to mitigate those concerns, he said no. “There’s no way I can draft something that trumps federal law. And that is the problem,” he said. Oklahoma Banking Commissioner Mick Thompson pointed out that Oklahoma is entering the market during the tenure of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who opposes legalization. “Under federal law, marijuana remains illegal,” Thompson said. “It is therefore a violation of criminal statute for a bank or a credit union to bank funds related to marijuana.” He said Sessions issued a memorandum in January that rescinded the Obama Administration’s guidance on how federal authorities should view marijuana-related activities. “It is riskier than ever” to work with such accounts, Thompson said, adding: “We’re not gonna prosecute it, but we don’t know that the U.S. attorney’s not gonna prosecute it.” But legislation known as the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment blocks the U.S. Department of Justice from using resources to hamper the operations of marijuana businesses in states with legal medical marijuana as long as they comply with applicable state laws. Although Beverage said that might lead people to believe they’re “home safe,” he said “it opens up a number […]

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