Attorney General to Open Banking to Pot Business

By Shawn Dwyer 01/24/14

In a recent speech, Eric Holder said he was open to new regulations to allow banks to conduct business with marijuana retailers, though he declined to offer specifics.

Holder at the University of Virgina. Photo via

The dominoes appear to be falling in the wake of legalized recreational weed in Colorado and Washington. On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the U.S. Treasury and law enforcement agencies will begin issuing new banking regulations for states with legal marijuana businesses.

Holder cited the fact that many retail and medical marijuana businesses are operating strictly on a cash-only basis, since banks remain fearful of federal law. The attorney general pointed to the inherent dangers of such a system. "You don't want just huge amounts of cash in these places," Holder said in a speech at the University of Virginia. "They want to be able to use the banking system. And so we will be issuing some regulations I think very soon to deal with that issue."

Owner-operators of retail and medical marijuana businesses have recently begun to complain about having to deal with large amounts of cash, which puts them at great risk for robbery. Holder addressed that very point in his speech. "There's a public safety component to this," he said. "Huge amounts of cash – substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited – is something that would worry me just from a law enforcement perspective."

Despite his support for new regulations, Holder offered no specifics about what laws would change or when such changes would be implemented.

Watch a report on Denver calling for federal banking reform:

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.