One of the biggest challenges of running a legitimate marijuana dispensary or business is the lack of access to banking services. Because of federal laws that still consider marijuana an illegal, Schedule I narcotic with no medicinal value, banks have been reticent to extend services to any operation that is exchanging marijuana for currency, for fear of getting hemmed up on money laundering charges.
The result has been that marijuana dispensaries and businesses operate on a cash-only basis – despite the fact that more than half the U.S. population now lives in a state or jurisdiction where the drug is legal at least for medicinal use. These consumers want safe, legal access to the drug via a well-regulated business. Denial of banking services has made this tough.
Then, it seemed as if there might be some change. In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16-to-14 to give banks express permission to extend financial services to the marijuana industry. Unfortunately, the House nixed the move – for now, at least. Continue reading