The banking industry has given the cannabis industry headaches since the very beginning of the cannabis industry. Banks and credit unions have long shunned cannabis businesses for fear of federal backlash. This has led to issues for the cannabis industry, largely due to the fact that cannabis businesses deal with a lot of cash transactions.
The cash from those transactions piles up. Other industries that deal with high volume cash transactions store that money in the bank as soon as they can, and usually earn a decent interest rate for doing so. Unfortunately, most cannabis businesses don't have that luxury. Enormous piles of cash lying around creates public safety issues, as well as logistical issues for the company. Fortunately for the emerging cannabis industry in Nevada, they won't have to deal with that problem.
John Sullivan, president and CEO of First Security Bank of Nevada, told KNPR in an interview Friday that he approached his board of directors with the idea of banking medical marijuana businesses a couple of months ago. He said they've looked at the federal guidelines and banking regulations and felt that banking the marijuana industry was a safe and valuable new line of business for the community bank.
"Our willingness to work with the applicants who intend to get into the marijuana-related businesses arises from our attitude that we should serve all of the customers in our market," Sullivan said."
Colorado recently passed a measure that would help set up a banking industry. At least two credit unions in Washington State have said that they plan to accept cannabis industry customers. You can now add First Security Bank of Nevada to that growing list. While this is a good thing, what is truly needed is comprehensive reform at the federal level. Guidelines, like those recently issued by the Obama Administration, are confusing and create more questions than answers. It's time the United States gave the cannabis industry the same rights and privileges that are afforded to other legitimate industries, banking and otherwise.