Banks can now legally do business with pot dealers, and more from the Slatest PM.

The Feds Want Banks to Finally Do Business With (Legal) Pot Dealers

The Feds Want Banks to Finally Do Business With (Legal) Pot Dealers

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Feb. 14 2014 4:50 PM

Slatest PM: The Feds Want Banks to Finally Do Business With (Legal) Pot Dealers

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Tyler Williams selects marijuana strains to purchase at the 3-D Denver Discrete Dispensary on January 1, 2014 in Denver

Photo by Theo Stroomer/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Letting Banks Get High: NBC News: "The Obama administration issued new rules Friday intended to ease the concerns of banks wanting to deal with businesses that legally sell marijuana, something the nation's banks have so far declined to do. The rules, issued by the Treasury and Justice Departments, are intended to 'move from the shadows the historically covert financial operations of marijuana businesses,' said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. While 20 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing the sale of medical and recreational marijuana, its production, sale, and possession remain illegal under federal law. And because the federal government regulates banking transactions, marijuana dealers have been unable to get banks to do business with them. As a result, dealers operate strictly with cash, creating a tempting target for thieves. Treasury Department officials say the revised rules should reduce the dangers associated with conducting an all-cash business."

Still Hazy: Politico: "The directives from Justice and Treasury attempt to walk a fine line of easing banks’ concerns while not endorsing activities illegal under federal law. The lack of certainty in the memos issued Friday may reflect the Obama administration’s sensitivity at the moment to allegations that it is ignoring federal law. In recent weeks, GOP lawmakers have been slamming the president and his aides for immigration and health care reform policies that lawmakers say ignore congressional statutes. Advocates of allowing banks to work with marijuana dispensaries welcomed the guidelines but said ultimately Congress will need to act to get rid of the contradictions between federal and state laws."

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Happy Valentine's Day, and welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

Record Drug Tunnel: USA Today: "Nogales has been the epicenter for cross-border drug tunnels for years. U.S. authorities have found 100 drug tunnels in that city since 1990, more than any other location along the 2,000-mile United States-Mexico border. But the tunnel found this week tops them all. At 481 feet ... it is the longest ever discovered in Nogales, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The tunnel extended from a house in Nogales, Sonora, to a house in Nogales, Ariz., and was being used to smuggle marijuana and other drugs into the U.S., ICE officials said. Federal authorities found a half pound of heroin and 46 pounds of marijuana inside."

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What to Do With Snowden: Associated Press: "...Ron Paul has started a petition drive to pressure the Obama administration to grant clemency to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.... Paul's push for clemency would have to be granted by President Barack Obama. Earlier this week, Paul's son, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, filed a lawsuit against Obama and other top administration officials to stop the surveillance programs, which Sen. Paul contends are violations of 4th amendment constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. Ron Paul said in a video post that he wants Snowden to return to the U.S. without facing prosecution before the accused leaker's amnesty in Russia is due to expire at the end of July."

Volcano!: Reuters: "More than 76,000 people fled their homes and flights were grounded across most of Indonesia's densely populated island of Java on Friday after a volcanic eruption sent a huge plume of ash and sand [10 miles] into the air. The ash cloud from Thursday night's eruption of Mount Kelud in the province of East Java moved west over the island, forcing the closure of seven airports and stranding thousands of passengers. The only major airports still operating on Java were two in the capital, Jakarta. ... Mount Kelud is one of 130 active volcanoes in the world's fourth most populous country, which sits along the 'Ring of Fire' volcanic belt around the shores of the Pacific Ocean."

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Your Move, Florida: NBC News: "The owner of a camel that bit at least one person after it escaped from its pen north of Los Angeles was not permitted to have the animal on the property and might be cited after Friday morning's attack, according to authorities. The camel escaped from a property in Acton, an unincorporated community about 50 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, and attacked at least one person in the East Soledad Canyon area. The victim received medical treatment for a bite wound. After calls from at least two concerned residents, firefighters and deputies responded and captured the runaway camel."

That's all for this week. See you back here Monday. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.