Attorney General Sessions Announces Rescission of Obama Administration Policies on Marijuana Enforcement; Financial Institutions Lose Grounds to Permit Financial Transactions with Marijuana Businesses
In a single-page memorandum issued today, Attorney General Sessions tersely rescinded a string of DOJ enforcement policies announced during the Obama Administration — chief among them the “Cole Memo,” described below — which collectively had indicated that although marijuana was still illegal under federal drug laws and the DOJ would continue its enforcement of those laws, the DOJ also would defer to state governments that had developed regulatory regimes legalizing marijuana under defined circumstances. Although Attorney General Sessions is well known for his personal distaste for marijuana-related activity, he previously had not been entirely clear as to exactly what position his DOJ would take in regards to the Cole Memo and related enforcement.
Although this policy change has many potential implications, its primary relevance to Anti-Money Laundering (“AML”), the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”), and money laundering issues is that the Cole Memo had provided the support for the federal government to issue guidance that, under very defined circumstances, financial institutions could provide services to state-licensed marijuana businesses. Continue Reading Marijuana Enforcement: DOJ Cole Memo Up in Smoke