Marijuana banking has been a controversial issue among credit unions, regulators and legislators, as well as consumers. Given the current conservative, anti-marijuana Attorney General Jeff Sessions, credit unions have been curious whether this is a business from which they want to toke. Federal law makes marijuana use and therefore its dispensaries illegal, however, a handful of states have legalized it and related businesses are seeing green.
Joseph Barton of the law firm Sheppard Mullin in Los Angeles—California is one of the states marijuana is legal—has said there are some strong indicators that this area of enforcement is becoming laxer. “I think he’s going to take action, not how people think,” Barton said of AG Sessions. “He’s not going to come after you because of marijuana.” He postulated that Sessions will likely ramp up auditing efforts through the IRS.
While the public attitude has mellowed regarding ganja, Barton pointed out, “Nobody likes a tax cheat.” Sessions can use that as a backdoor into the Mary Jane’s businesses. He said word is the IRS is bogarting auditors, but so long as credit unions’ paperwork is all in order regarding the pot businesses it serves, there shouldn’t be a problem.
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