District court dismisses marijuana banking suit, Kansas seeks marijuana data 


Pot banking takes a hit

U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson dismissed Fourth Corner Credit Union's suit against the Kansas City branch of the Federal Reserve last week. In a nine-page decision, Jackson said ordering the Fed to grant Fourth Corner a master account (the mandatory connection to federal banking oversight) would "facilitate criminal activity," as marijuana is federally illegal.

Jackson cited the Tenth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Court's August 2015 decision that marijuana companies cannot file for bankruptcy, which said, "... while the debtors have not engaged in intrinsically evil conduct, the debtors cannot obtain bankruptcy relief because their marijuana business activities are federal crimes."

The Indy reached out to Fourth Corner but received no response by press time.

There is some good in Jackson's decision. He ends his conclusions with scathing language against guidance issued by former Deputy Attorney General James Cole and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Jackson says, "[T]hese guidance documents simply suggest that prosecutors and bank regulators might 'look the other way' if financial institutions don't mind violating the law. A federal court cannot look the other way. I regard the situation as untenable and hope that it will soon be addressed and resolved by Congress."

Kansas seeks data

When U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. advised the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the lawsuit against Colorado filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma, he said the suit did not back up the claim that Amendment 64 had caused the states "irreparable damage."

Kansas has not joined the suit, but Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt isn't taking a wholly laissez faire stance. In a release last week, Schmidt says he "has launched a statewide project to collect information about how marijuana acquired in Colorado is entering and affecting Kansas." He has sent a request for data to all Kansas sheriffs and police chiefs.

"We need data that shows what is actually happening in Kansas as the result of Colorado's experiment," Schmidt concludes. "In my view, any response needs to be thoughtful and informed by factual data, not emotions."

Meanwhile, Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt and Nebraska AG Doug Peterson have compared Colorado's legalized marijuana industry to a drug cartel, according to The Oklahoman. They claim that Colorado is calling itself a "major exporter of marijuana," indirectly citing last month's report on how pot has affected Colorado tourism.

Pruitt and Peterson once again have failed to produce any numbers to back up their claim that Colorado's legal marijuana has harmed their states. Despite both federal opposition and a total lack of data, both plan to push for their day before the Supreme Court.


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