Massachusetts regulators approve transfer of cannabis banking business

Massachusetts’ Needham Bank completed its acquisition of Eastern Bank, including the transfer of the cannabis banking and money service businesses after receiving the necessary regulatory approvals.

Needham plans to open a branch focused on marijuana businesses.

The bank also hired the cannabis banking team at Eastern, including Executive Vice President Paul Evangelista, according to a news release.

Evangelista launched and led the cannabis banking strategy at Medford, Massachusetts-based Century Bank for nine years. Century was acquired by Eastern Bank in November 2021.

“We’ve spent the last couple of years analyzing the cannabis industry and the significant compliance and regulatory resources necessary to be successful,” said Joseph Campanelli, president and chief executive officer of Needham Bank.

The asset purchase agreement was announced Jan. 14, 2022, and Needham received the necessary regulatory approvals in March.

Also in March, another Massachusetts financial institution, Dedham Savings Bank, said it launched a marijuana banking business in acknowledgment of the industry’s rapid growth and need for financial services.

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About a dozen Massachusetts banks and credit unions now offer financial services to cannabis businesses.

The marijuana industry has continually sought more robust banking options. One key reason: Operating cash-only businesses provides an attractive target for criminals to break in and commit robberies.