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Federal Regulators Breathe Life into Marijuana Businesses Even as They Seek to Choke Out FFLs

2nd Amend.

Federal Regulators Breathe Life into Marijuana Businesses Even as They Seek to Choke Out FFLs

Banks are being systematically indoctrinated by federal regulators to consider firearm businesses as inherently risky

By now, knowledgeable members of the pro-gun community are well aware of Operation Choke Point (OCP) and its effect on lawful firearm-related businesses. As we have often reported (here, here, and here, for example), OCP is a deliberate attempt by federal regulators to pressure banks to sever or avoid business relationships with legitimate industries that are considered politically objectionable, including firearms and ammunition sales. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has issued reports condemning the participation of both the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the program. Internal investigators at both agencies have also launched their own probes into allegations of abusive practices under the guise of OCP.

According to a recent article by State Net (a provider of legal research tools), however, the administration’s use of banking regulators for political purposes goes both ways.

Titled “Cashed Out: Legal Weed Outlets Flush In Cash Struggling To Find Banks,” the piece recounts the “unique problem” facing prosperous marijuana businesses operating legally under state laws that are finding banks reluctant to provide them with services. This is perhaps not surprising, given that marijuana distribution is still, after all, a federal crime, and banks that knowingly do business with marijuana dispensaries could expose themselves to criminal prosecution. According to the article, “That prohibition could even chain out to include security companies that provide legal weed outlets with security or transportation services.”

Yet who’s seeking to “mitigate the problem” of banks shying away from participating in actual criminal activity? Why none other than Obama’s Treasury Department and DOJ. According to the article:

[The U.S. Treasury Department’s] financial enforcement arm, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, issued guidelines in 2014 that gave banks a pathway for dealing with marijuana businesses. Those include a requirement that such businesses take responsibility for making sure their marijuana clients are obeying the laws of their state and notify federal authorities of suspicious transactions. Other actions have since followed, including a Department of Justice directive to U.S. Attorneys ordering them not to prosecute banks that deal with pot sellers as long as the banks adhere to federal guidelines.

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