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One of the most serious issues facing those who would work in legal cannabis businesses is difficulty with opening a bank account. Current federal policy prohibits banking institutions from opening accounts related to cannabis businesses. Generally, only those who are directly involved in or profiting from the growth or sale of cannabis are prohibited from banking, although many ancillary companies also find it difficult to open business banking accounts.
The issue is the ability of the government to seize the assets of anyone involved in handling the money related to the sale of prohibited drugs. If the bank knowingly accepts money from a cannabis company, under current federal law, they could face legal action by the federal government, potentially including the seizure of assets or criminal charges. Concerns about action by the federal government have resulted in banking institutions having very firm policies about cannabis companies.
The cash economy that results is dangerous for everyone working in cannabis. It increases the likelihood of theft and other crimes, and it leaves individuals more vulnerable to allegations of fraud or failure to pay taxes. Overall, a solely cash economy for such an in-demand product is a ludicrous policy failure.
Thankfully, it looks like things could finally be changing at a federal level when it comes to cannabis companies and banking. A critical bill has finally moved out of the House Financial Services Committee. On Thursday, March 28th, 2019 that committee voted 45 to 15 to send the bill into the house for broad consideration. If the bill passes, businesses that work with cannabis will potentially have the ability to open banking accounts.
States that have already legalized cannabis would benefit from the passage of this bill, as it would allow for safer business practices and better tracking of the money that comes into and out of legal dispensaries in cannabis businesses.
For previous Ladybud articles about cannabis banking, click here.