Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin faced questions from lawmakers on Capitol Hill yesterday. Three congressmen from states with legal marijuana businesses asked Mnuchin about the issue of legal marijuana businesses’ access to traditional banking, which has been thwarted by cannabis’ federal Schedule I status.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) warned Mnuchin that removing Obama-era guidance on FinCEN (the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) would be a bonanza for armed robbers, since it would leave these businesses operating with “bags of cash.”
But Mnuchin’s answer that his department doesn’t want to see “bags of cash” from the marijuana industry, while it implies that his department would prefer to extend traditional banking services to the marijuana industry, doesn’t exactly equal a commitment to do anything to make that happen.
Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) wanted a better explanation of what “we don’t want bags of cash” really meant.
In response, Mnuchin seemingly commits to not replacing current FinCEN guidance on marijuana banking without first having a viable alternative that avoids “bags of cash.”
Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-CO) expresses to Mnuchin that something can be done by Congress – passing the SAFE Act that would legalize marijuana banking – and urges the Treasury Secretary to reach out to the administration and lawmakers about it.