(Corrects time reference in paragraph 4 to "last month" from
WASHINGTON Feb 14 The Obama administration will
allow banks to do business with licensed marijuana companies
with a reduced fear of criminal prosecution if the banks meet a
series of conditions, a U.S. Justice Department official said on
The Justice and Treasury departments were preparing written
guidance that would stop short of promising immunity for banks
but make clear that prosecution for money-laundering and other
crimes was unlikely if they cooperated with regulators, said the
official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the
release of official memoranda.
The guidance was intended to increase the availability of
banking services, such as savings and checking accounts, to
marijuana shops that typically deal in cash, the official said.
Colorado last month became the first state to open retail
outlets legally permitted to sell marijuana to adults for
recreational purposes, in a system similar to what many states
have long had in place for alcohol sales. Washington state is
expected to follow Colorado's lead.
(Reporting by David Ingram and Jason Lange; Editing by Howard