By Erik Wasson - 04/29/14 11:17 AM EDT
Lew defends Obama marijuana policy at House hearing
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew came under fire at a House hearing on Tuesday as he defended the Obama administration’s policy of allowing banks to do business with pot dealers in states that have legalized marijuana.
Lew said that the policy should actually cut down on illegal activities such as money laundering or the financing of other criminal enterprises because it would bring all-cash businesses into the daylight.
He also noted that a lot of banks are not taking the risk of doing businesses with marijuana dispensaries.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) made clear he is against Treasury giving “a stamp of approval on banks doing business with illegal shops.”
“This gives me some pause … is it wise to offer to regulator guidance from the federal government on an illegal activity?” Rogers asked Lew, who was appearing before the subcommittee that sets Treasury’s spending level.
“What about cocaine dealers?” Rogers asked. Lew said that no states have made cocaine legal so it is not comparable.
“We are in no way saying that things illegal under federal law are legal,” Lew said.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (D-Fla.) also tried to get Lew to assure him that the guidance would explicitly state that marijuana is illegal under federal law, but Lew did not offer that assurance.