Bank of America (BOA) recently stated that it has no issue with accepting I-502 money from the State of Washington. BOA seems confident that it won’t be violating any federal banking laws by handling the State’s pot dollars.
Washington State Treasurer, Jim McIntire, said that he is “not too worried about it [the Federal Government],” and that “[i]t’s actually one of the advantages of having Bank of America as your contractor. It’s unlikely . . . that the federal government would raid them. And they’re big enough to look out for themselves on this.”
As recently as this July, Liquor Control Board member Chris Marr said that unless the Federal Government gives its official okay, no I-502 cannabis money could be deposited with other State funds without the risk of being called out for unlawful commingling. However, Assistant Washington State Treasurer, Wolfgang Opitz, says that BOA has “checked this out with their compliance department and they don’t see it as any different from say, medical marijuana or any other activity.”
Does BOA’s new found tolerance for cannabis money stem from the recently released Cole memo? Is it because BOA has been negotiating with the Feds behind closed-door? Or is it because BOA is looking to infiltrate a new cutting edge market and just doesn’t care about the perceived risk?
Regardless of its reasons for taking Washington State money, the real question is whether BOA will also take money from the cannabis industry at large. Whether the money is going into a State bank account or into that of a State-licensed retailer, it’s all cannabis money and it’s all arguably federally illegal.
Time will tell….