FL cannabis lobbyist turned political candidate sees second bank account shut

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A second bank has terminated the campaign account of Nikki Fried, a pro-medical marijuana Democrat who is running to become Florida’s agriculture commissioner.

Fried said the bank, BB&T of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, took the step because of her support for MMJ.

The move highlights the banking industry’s reluctance to work with marijuana businesses and even ancillary entities that don’t touch the plant, such as advocacy groups. Fried is a Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer and MMJ lobbyist.

Fried’s campaign manager, Alicia Stallworth, told the Miami Herald that BB&T called the campaign Aug. 29 to say its bank account had to be closed within 30 days.

Stallworth said the bank sent an email Aug. 31 saying the account had to be closed by Sept. 5.

Just weeks before Fried’s Aug. 28 primary contest, which Fried won, Wells Fargo shut down her account, citing a need to comply with federal law, which classifies marijuana as an illegal drug. Fried then moved her campaign bank account to BB&T, according to Capitol News Service.

Florida voters legalized medical marijuana in 2016, but some banks remain reluctant to do business with the industry because of the federal government’s cannabis prohibition. BB&T released a statement saying it’s complying with federal law.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily