Filings Show Many Banks Working With Cannabis Businesses

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Banks have filed more than 1,700 so-called “marijuana limited” suspicious activity reports since the federal government issued guidance early last year on how financial institutions can handle dealings with cannabis businesses, an indication that banks are in fact working with marijuana companies, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A “marijuana limited” report is filed by a bank on a company that works in the cannabis industry but isn’t violating state law or any priority enforcement areas outlined in the 2013 Cole Memo.

About 1,300 “marijuana termination” reports were filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (Fincen), meaning banks ended their relationship with companies. Some 313 “marijuana priority” reports – those indicating there may be activity that violates the Cole Memo or state law – were filed, according to the Journal, citing a Freedom of Information Act request by Dynamic Securities Analytics and Enhanced Compliance Solutions.

Banking has been a thorn in the side of the legal marijuana industry for years. The cannabis industry got bad news on this end April 10 when MBank, which handles 70 to 75 cannabis business accounts, said it will close those accounts due to the cost of compliance.

Some banks with prior relationships with customers have been willing to offer financial services on a limited basis. Credit unions also have been working the cannabis businesses.