For a long time the federal government prohibited banks from working with the cannabis industry. Recently the Obama Administration issued guidelines that were supposed to make it possible for banks to work with the cannabis industry. However, the guidelines created more questions than answers. The guidelines can be read at this link.
The confusion has led to the Governors of Washington and Colorado asking for more clarity from the federal government. Per The Cannabist:
In a letter last week to the heads of the four major banking regulating agencies --- the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Controller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the National Credit Union Administration --- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee jointly and gently asked for "follow-up inter-agency guidance" to bank examiners and the banks and credit unions about how to do business with legal marijuana.
"Banks and credit unions in Colorado and Washington are waiting for the Federal Banking Agencies to furnish instructions given to bank and credit union examiners before deciding whether and how to provide banking services to state licensed recreational marijuana businesses," the governors wrote in a May 23rd letter.
The banking issue needs to be worked out sooner than later, otherwise the cannabis industry will never reach it's full potential. Making the cannabis industry a 'cash only' industry creates a public safety issue due to the fact that the industry does so many cash transactions. That cash has to go somewhere safe, otherwise it becomes a magnet for robbers and thieves, and creates logistical issues for the companies that have to store it somewhere.
So far Salal Credit Union and Numerica Credit Union, both in Washington, have stated that they intend to work with some cannabis businesses. Also, First Security Bank of Nevada recently stated that they will work with cannabis businesses once Nevada's industry gets up and running. For the sake of everyone, the feds need comprehensive reform, not confusing guidelines. Guidelines can go away at anytime, which would just create more chaos. We will be providing the latest news regarding banking at the International Cannabis Business Conference on September 13th-14th (get your tickets now at the early bird price) and will, of course, continue providing you the latest information and developments on our blog.