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The Marijuana Banking Dilemma

Recorded on November 08, 2018

What's a banker to do? Perhaps you find yourself in one of the 31 states (or D.C. or Guam or Puerto Rico) where medical marijuana use is now permissible under state law. Or maybe you are in one of the 9 states where state law allows recreational use. And you've been seeing the sale of CBD products nearly everywhere. Has the whole world gone crazy? With Cannabis still classified as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, what sort of legal jeopardy could a financial institution face if it provides services to marijuana-related businesses? How far does the risk extend?

It is a bizarre circumstance where something is, to an extent, both legal and illegal at the same time. Now you may have long-time "good customers" who want to enter the business - farmers who foresee a much more profitable crop in marijuana than corn or wheat. Doctors ready to provide medical authorizations to pot users. Retail folks who want to operate dispensaries. And what about individual customers of your bank who are employed by MRBs, or those who simply get a license to use? Or service providers who specialize in supplying MRBs with equipment?

If your Board says "We don't want to get involved with anything cannabis-related until things change at the federal level," you need a sound strategy for identifying MRBs so you can steer clear and you may have found that it is not as simple a task as it sounds. Maybe your institution has refrained from banking pot shops since your state law changed, but now you are ready to revisit the issues. Perhaps your board wants to determine how to manage the risk of providing services to the state-legal businesses in order to generate significant fee income.

This program takes a deep, hard look at the risks and rewards, the practical challenges of truly avoiding banking MRBs, as well as the challenges of embracing them.

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