The Banking Issue: It’s Not Just About the Cash!

canna_admin
February 3, 2016

The MSNBC series, Pot Barons of Colorado, shows currency-counting machines so often you could create a drinking game out of it. But while it has given us a little chuckle to poke fun at it, dealing with cash is still quite a problem in the cannabis industry.

The MSNBC series, Pot Barons of Colorado, shows currency-counting machines so often you could create a drinking game out of it. But while it has given us a little chuckle to poke fun at it, dealing with cash is still quite a problem in the cannabis industry. We’ve been dealing with the banking issue for years. As a dispensary and cultivation facility owner, we went through eight banks over the course of three years. I remember when a bank in Colorado Springs solicited us for an account, happily charging us over $200 a month just to keep an account with them. Everything was going along beautifully until I got a call from the bank one day, just a few months later, apologizing for having to pull out of the industry due to a change of heart from their corporate ties in Texas. Luckily, we were able to find a small, local bank that agreed to take a total of five marijuana businesses as clients.
Still, today, as consultants—not even touching the federally illegal plant—we approach our banking relationship with trepidation, not wanting to do anything to jeopardize our accounts.

And the problems are increasing and becoming more complex as the industry grows. It’s not just an issue for dispensaries and cultivators—any business with a cannabis-associated client is at risk. Even employees who try to cash their paychecks or get home loans can be turned down because of the business name on the check. A mortgage company can even call in a landlord’s note if they are renting to a cannabis business.

In just a few weeks, I’ll be flying to Washington D.C. with other members of Women Grow to spend a day lobbying for the industry. This will be one of the main issues we bring up to legislators. Only by repeating this issue over and over will banking in the cannabis industry improve.

In the past few months, I’ve been cautiously optimistic about a bank in Oregon who is openly soliciting cannabis-based businesses and a Credit Union in Colorado that is trying to open its doors. This is great progress and I hope it leads to more change. Yet, from the time it took me to draft and edit this document, it appears the Oregon bank is already running into issues with their Colorado initiative.

In the meantime, my recommendation to my clients, others in the industry, and those looking to get into the industry remains the same: if you have a bank account, do everything you can to keep it. And while you’re at it, open up a few more at other banks—just in case!

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