NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The banking industry has the all-clear to do business with marijuana companies thanks to the Treasury Department, said TheStreet's Debra Borchardt.
Aaron Houston, policy adviser for Ghost Group, called the new guidelines, issued last week, a "substantial step forward" because many small marijuana businesses are being pinched by high tax rates and difficult access to capital. Many financial institutions had avoided these companies because marijuana is not legal at the federal level.
Houston said it's "hogwash" if the banks complain about an additional burden or risk for them. Reporting "suspicious" activity applies to dealings with all businesses, not just marijuana businesses, he said. Banks are required by law to know their customers.
Houston said the legalization of marijuana on the federal level is rapidly approaching a tipping point, one that has come much faster than most had expected.
President Obama could use his executive authority to put the focus on marijuana, which would solve a host of problems, Houston said. It would ease the concerns of financial institutions regarding anti-money laundering, as well as provide relief for small businesses from heavy tax burdens.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich.