State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Treasurers seek clarity on federal marijuana policies

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 3, 2018 3:14 AM

Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, a Democrat, is one of four state treasurers trying to clarify where the federal government stands on medical marijuana being sold in states that have legalized it. (Photo by AP)


(Harrisburg) -- Four state treasurers, including Pennsylvania's Joe Torsella, are trying to figure out where the federal government stands on legal marijuana.

They've written a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking for a meeting to clarify how the banking industry is expected to deal with marijuana growers, processors, and dispensers.

Even though 29 states have legalized marijuana in some capacity, it's still not legal federally. And that means marijuana-based businesses often struggle with basic financial matters.

They can't really use credit cards, for instance, and can't deposit money in federal banks.

Making the situation more complicated, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been vocally anti-marijuana -- including in medical form.

In January, he rescinded documents known as Cole Memoranda, which were put in place under President Obama to assure businesses and banks they wouldn't be targeted by the federal government, so long as they followed state laws and stayed transparent.

Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, as well as treasurers from California, Oregon, and Illinois are now asking for clarity.

"The rescission of the Cole Memos," they wrote, "adds yet more uncertainty to the issue at a time when financial institutions and cannabis businesses need greater clarity on how federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies will respond to the growing legalization of cannabis at the state level."

They added, "With legalization taking place, there are sound public policy reasons for providing financial institutions and other entities that do business with the cannabis industry some comfort that they will not be prosecuted."

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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