One of the biggest obstacles facing the marijuana industry is banking. The federal government has not yet signaled that they will allow banks and credit unions to work with marijuana businesses. The feds have said that they are ‘considering’ it, but the federal government is ‘considering’ a lot of things that they never intend to follow up on. If banks are willing to work with the marijuana industry, and the marijuana industry wants to use banks and credit unions, why should the federal government stand in the way?
I worked at a large Oregon credit union for two years. If there is one thing that I remember from those days is that financial institutions are ALWAYS looking for new customers. How many times have you gone to a bank or credit union and they are running promotions to ‘sign up a friend’? Or they badger you to sign up for a credit card, or open up another account? I guarantee on the face of things banks and credit unions are like ‘yeah, we will work with them.’ But their true feelings are more like, ‘hell yes, we want every dollar they want to bring in!’
Some quotes that I found interesting, from an article on Herald Net:
“We survive in our community and we prosper in our community by providing banking services,” said Denny Eliason, lobbyist for the Washington Bankers Association, which represents nearly all of the state’s 93 banks. “It is not a matter of do we want to offer these services. We’re eager to but we’re not willing because there is too much at stake.”
“Our hands are tied,” said David Curtis, director of compliance services for the Northwest Credit Union Association, which has 104 members in Washington. “Until we can get some official guidance, everybody is in a holding pattern.”
“We’re all talking. So much is in the hands of our federal counterparts,” said Scott Jarvis, director of the state’s Department of Financial Institutions. “Having all that cash running around doesn’t really provide the kind of safe environment the Attorney General has said he wants to see.”
There is a bill in Congress that would resolve the banking issue. HR 2652, The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2013, would change federal banking rules and would allow marijuana businesses acting in compliance with state law to use banking services. If you haven’t contacted your federal Representative yet about this issue, you should do so now.