Reuters is reporting today that the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) was caught off guard by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement last week that the Justice Department was reversing its policy regarding enforcement of federal marijuana laws. A FinCEN spokesman said in a statement that his agency’s prior pronouncement regarding marijuana banking nevertheless “remains in place,” referring to guidance issued in February 2014 to clarify Bank Secrecy Act expectations for financial institutions seeking to provide services to marijuana-related businesses. That guidance described how financial institutions could provide banking services to marijuana businesses consistent with their BSA obligations despite the fact that the manufacture, distribution, and dispensing of marijuana is illegal under federal law. And as we recently reported, 400 banks and credit unions were actively serving the marijuana industry prior to the Attorney General’s announcement.
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