In direct contradiction of federal laws banning marijuana trafficking and associated laws that make it illegal for banks to handle marijuana sale proceeds, the Obama administration has announced money-laundering laws won’t be enforced against banks doing business with marijuana stores. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) says this is a move designed to “facilitate illegal conduct.”
The Obama administration calls it “Guidance to Financial Institutions on Marijuana Businesses.”
The Washington Post story about this development carried the innocuous headline, “Obama administration clears banks to accept funds from legal marijuana dealers,” when in fact the marijuana “business” is not “legal” under federal or international law.
“Marijuana trafficking is illegal under federal law, and it’s illegal for banks to deal with marijuana sale proceeds under federal law,” noted Grassley. “Only Congress can change these laws. The administration can’t change the law with a memo.”
He added, “This is just one more area in which the Obama Administration is undermining our system of checks and balances and the rule of law.”
Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Robert Charles, told Accuracy in Media that banks will avoid laundering marijuana money despite Obama’s “guidance” because of the fear of being sued. “The range of suits is enormous,” he said. “The guidelines do absolutely nothing. They protect no bank against anything. The DOJ won’t give any bank an assurance that it won’t be prosecuted under federal bank secrecy or anti-drug laws.”
Calvina L. Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, told AIM, “This is yet one more example of the lawlessness of the Obama administration. We all know that banks are federally regulated and that pot is still illegal at the federal level. This action will clearly put banks in jeopardy of violating regulations and will enable criminal activity to thrive.”
She added, “This action tells parents and grandparents that the government can no longer be counted on to do what it is intended to do: protect U.S. citizens from criminals who engage in drug trafficking, human trafficking, weapons trafficking, and other serious illegal activities that are inter-connected to the drug underworld. Rather, our government is now embracing this activity and enabling it.”
In effect, by his attempt to use a “guideline” memo to overrule federal law according to his whims instead of pursuing new legislation, Obama is merely creating uncertainty and taking one more step to erode trust in the system.
Source: Western Center for Journalism