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Federal gov't issues marijuana guidelines for banks

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The guidelines by the Justice and Treasury Departments don't grant banks immunity from prosecution or civil penalties, but directs prosecutors to give priority only to cases where financial institutions do not follow the guidelines. (Source: CBS 5 News) The guidelines by the Justice and Treasury Departments don't grant banks immunity from prosecution or civil penalties, but directs prosecutors to give priority only to cases where financial institutions do not follow the guidelines. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PEORIA, AZ (CBS5) -

On Friday, the Obama administration issued guidelines for banks on how to provide business to legitimate medical marijuana businesses. Arizona is one of the states that allows medical marijuana to be bought and sold, even though it remains illegal under federal law.

"Up until this point, clients have had a really hard time finding banks that would work with them," explained attorney Laura Bianchi. As a lawyer for Rose Law Group, Bianchi represents many Arizona medical marijuana dispensaries.

"Banks can work with medical marijuana businesses as long as they are closely monitored and you know exactly what's going on and you're aware," she continued. 

Arizona Natural Selections, a medical marijuana dispensary in Peoria is one of the only West Valley dispensaries that accepts debit and credit cards. Many dispensaries deal primarily with cash since they have trouble working with banks to accept credit and debit payments.

"(Accepting credit and debit cards) came down to our previous banking relationships," said Arizona Natural Selections owner JP Holyoak.

"We had banks that were willing to accept our cash deposits because they were comfortable with us," he continued.

Even so, Holyoak said many customers pay in cash since they assume that's the only method of payment available.

"People walk in here everyday not knowing that we accept credit and debit cards," he said.

The new guidelines issued by the Justice and Treasury Departments don't grant banks immunity from prosecution or civil penalties. Rather, it directs prosecutors to give priority only to cases where financial institutions did not adhere to the guidelines.

Holyoak said he's glad the guidelines were released, but he's more excited about what he says he sees by reading between the lines.

"I think what's even more important is what's not being said in those new regulations," said Holyoak. He's referring to the fact that two federal departments acknowledged some form of legitimacy of the medical marijuana industry.

Copyright 2014 CBS5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation).All rights reserved. 

 

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