DENVER (AP/CBS4) – Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is welcoming a Justice Department decision to help clear the way for financial institutions to do business with the legitimate marijuana industry without fear of prosecution.

Currently, processing money from marijuana sales puts federally insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges. The issue took on greater urgency after Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Hancock said Tuesday the Justice Department’s plan is an “important step,” adding that the current inability for cash-only marijuana businesses to access banking institutions “exposes them and our neighborhoods to unnecessary safety risks, including serious criminal activity.”

Statement From Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

“Denver recognizes that the Department of Justice took an important step today by acknowledging the need to address the issue of legalizing marijuana-industry banking. The current inability of these cash-only businesses to legally access banking institutions creates accountability barriers and exposes them and our neighborhoods to unnecessary safety risks, including serious criminal activity.

“It is imperative that banking regulators and justice officials take action in order to create an effective and safe environment to transact business that will help protect these businesses – particularly in states and cities with regulatory systems in place – as well as Denver’s families and neighborhoods.

“Denver is grateful to the Senate Judiciary Committee and our federal delegation for giving this issue the attention it deserves. We will continue to work with them to find a responsible solution.”

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.) 


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