Banks Can Now Process Marijuana Transactions Without Penalty

If you live in one of the many states where marijuana is legal, you can now buy your weed with a credit card. On Friday, the federal government made good on its pledge to lift the restrictions on banks processing transactions for marijuana retailers. Attorney General Eric Holder had announced that things would be changing in January, but it’s now official: Financial institutions “can provide services to marijuana related-businesses in a manner consistent with their obligations to know their customers and to report possible criminal activity.

Previously, it was a crime for banks to do this, which caused all sorts of problems in states with legalized marijuana. As Bustle reported in January, the law meant that marijuana retailers — both medicinal and recreational — had to conduct all of their transactions in cash. That included not only sales, but purchasing inventory and processing payroll. It also meant that marijuana dispensaries were constantly carrying large amounts of cash, making them a ripe target for armed robbery — and, in turn, requiring them to invest in costly security measures.

“Providing clarity in this context should enhance the availability of financial services for marijuana businesses,” the U.S. Treasury wrote in a press release. “This would promote greater financial transparency in the marijuana industry and mitigate the dangers associated with conducting an all-cash business. The guidance also helps financial institutions file reports that contain information important to law enforcement.”

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