When the Marijuana Is Legal but the Currency Used to Pay for It Is Illegal
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is the government office responsible for investigating financial crimes. It was established as part of the Department of the Treasury in 1990, and while its original purpose was to investigate transactions related to money laundering and funding of terrorist activities, it plays a role in investigating many kinds of financial crimes. Any transaction that looks suspicious could win you the attention of FinCEN. Since FinCEN was founded, the nature of financial transactions has changed; online transactions, and even more recently, cryptocurrencies, have become widespread in legal and illegal business. Part of FinCEN’s task is to detect transactions related to the sale of illegal drugs, but drug laws have changed, too. The legal cannabis industry has had to deal, since its inception, with a web of contradictions when it comes to drug laws and financial crime laws. Recently, medical cannabis dispensaries frequently face issues with the legality of cryptocurrency transactions. As such, if you sell marijuana in exchange for cryptocurrency, you might need to hire a criminal defense lawyer for financial crimes instead of drug crimes.
Why the Law Regards Cryptocurrencies with Suspicion
Cryptocurrencies are pieces of computer code produced in limited amounts; people may “mine” these units of code the way they would precious metals, and then exchange them. Because they are scarce resources, they more closely resemble gold and silver than they do dollars or any other national currency. While the most widely publicized cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, many different cryptocurrencies exist. Since early in their history, they have been associated with illegal activity, especially because it is easier to purchase drugs or other illegal merchandise online if you use cryptocurrency instead of a bank account or credit card that authorities can easily link to a person. Since the dawn of cryptocurrencies, they have gained wider acceptance in legal business, including the legal cannabis industry.
In the News
A recent report on Motherboard describes the popularity of cryptocurrency in the legal cannabis industry. Many dispensaries see cryptocurrency as a solution to the problems faced by businesses that deal with large amounts of cash. Keeping track accurately of how much cash is coming and going requires time and work; cash is easy to steal, easy to lose, and hard to recover. Most businesses solve this problem by accepting credit cards, but legal gray areas make accepting credit card payments prohibitively expensive for most dispensaries. Specifically, the fact that the federal Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 has not been amended to account for new cannabis laws makes many credit card companies hesitate or refuse to deal with legal cannabis dispensaries.
Contact Gary E. Gerson About Financial Crime Charges
The way people do business is changing, and if you have been charged with a cryptocurrency-related offense, you need a dedicated Pittsburgh white collar crime lawyer to assert the innocence of your business dealings. Contact the Law Offices of Gary E. Gerson to discuss your case.