With little or no access to mainstream banking services, all but a few marijuana businesses have remained small ventures. Growth opportunities – within cities, across counties and certainly across state and international borders – are significantly curtailed by the fact that the drug remains illegal under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Federal money laundering statutes prohibit financial institutions from offering their services to state-legal cannabis companies so long as the drug remains – no matter how matter how implausibly – a Schedule I narcotic.
Medical marijuana is currently legal in 33 states and 11 states allow recreational marijuana sales and possession. It’s now considered one of the fastest-growing job sources, with some more than $3 billion in projected sales in California alone (the biggest legal market anywhere in the world).
Still, lack of access to banking services has been one of the biggest sources of angst among legal marijuana business entrepreneurs. In addition to difficulty with day-to-day transactions and savings – and all the security issues that arise from being a cash-only operation – marijuana businesses have difficulty starting retirement plans for workers, obtaining insurance or federal bankruptcy protection. Continue reading