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Terminals Deployed in Marijuana-Dispensing Establishments Cannot be Sponsored by Meta

10/20/14: In 2013,  Meta issued a directive to all ATM ISOs prohibiting the installation or operation of Meta sponsored ATMs in marijuana-related businesses in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)  21 U.S.C. § 801, et seq., which alignedwith federal law enforcement priorities set forth in a Memorandum for All United States Attorneys: Guidance Regarding Marijuana Enforcement (August 29, 2013)  (“Cole Memorandum”) The Cole Memorandum reiterates that marijuana is a dangerous drug, describes that illegal distribution and sale provides a significant source of revenue to criminal enterprises, cartels, and gangs;  and  sets forth the following priorities:

  • Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
  • Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
  • Preventing the diversion of marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or illegal activity;
  • Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
  • Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use
  • Preventing the growth of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
  • Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

Subsequently, Deputy Attorney General Cole issued supplemental guidance directing that prosecutors also consider these enforcement priorities with respect to federal money laundering, unlicensed money transmitters, and BSA offenses predicated on marijuana-related violations of the CSA.

Further, on February 14, 2014, FinCEN issued FIN-2014-G001 (“Guidance”) clarifying BSA expectations for financial institutions regarding marijuana related activities. The Guidance sets forth the criteria for banks to provide financial services to marijuana related businesses. The criteria includes rigorous due diligence of the marijuana-related business, focusing on licensing, related parties, expected activity, and adverse information relating to the business or principals, among others. Further, financial institutions are obligated to closely monitor transactions for suspicious activity and file the appropriate SARs, in accordance with the Guidance.

After the release of the Guidance, certain ATM ISOs have inquired whether our previous decision could be altered.

This matter has once again been reviewed and discussed at Meta’s Executive Product and Initiative Committee and the Committee has affirmed the earlier directive. In other words, the priorities set forth in the Cole Memorandum and the FinCEN guidance would require significant operational investment in time and resources to meet the requirements described therein. Accordingly, Meta’s position remains that the installation or operation of Meta Sponsored ATMs in Marijuana dispensing facilities is prohibited. 

Respectfully submitted,
MetaBank Legal/ Compliance/BSA Departments

Meta will continue to monitor communications from FinCEN and other regulatory agencies with regard to marijuana and marijuana business establishments.

Meta ATM Team