As far as Bill Barr, the Federal Reserve, Wells Fargo and the Nasdaq are concerned, the rules when it comes to the burgeoning marijuana industry are clear: There shouldn’t be one, and any provision of services to anyone involved in growing ganja is in clear violation of the law and regulations stemming therefrom.
The only problem with this argument is that the law isn’t so clear, since two years ago Congress made the production of hemp legal while keeping the ban on marijuana in place. In spite of that fine distinction, the fact remains that both are products of the same plant. Still, given all of that grey area, it seemed churlish to continue considering the mere cultivation of cannabis sativa itself a suspicious activity necessitating an endless series of suspicious activity reports, and so the regulators who’d have to review those tedious reports decided back in December they were no longer existentially necessary. Lest, however, the likes of Wells Fargo decided to take that advice to mean anything goes, allow the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to offer some guidance on the matter about as clear as the legal distinction between marijuana and hemp.
Banks and other institutions need to tailor anti-money-laundering programs to reflect the specific risks associated with customers that produce hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant that is often used for its fiber, as they would with any other customer, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, said in guidance published this week…. Financial institutions are expected to confirm that clients who are hemp growers are compliant with the state, tribal government or USDA licensing requirements by either obtaining a written declaration from the clients or a copy of the license, FinCEN said….
While banks no longer need to file SARs on customers solely because they are legally involved in growing hemp, financial institutions are still expected to monitor the transactions of these clients for signs of suspicious activity and file a SAR if they become aware of any unlawful activity, FinCEN said.