Search Results for: fincen

Report: More Banks Providing Services To Cannabis-Specific Businesses

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: A growing number of banks and credit unions are providing financial services to marijuana-related businesses, according to data released by FinCEN (the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) and first publicized by the news portal MarijuanaMoment.net.

The report acknowledged that the number of financial institutions actively banking with marijuana-related businesses rose from 401 in October 2017 to 486 in September 2018.

Although the federal classification of cannabis as a schedule I prohibited substance discourages banks from cooperating with state-licensed cannabis businesses, a 2014 US Treasury Department memo provided guidance to financial institutions wishing to transact with the marijuana industry. However, that memo was rescinded by the Justice Department earlier this year.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

 

GreenMed Launches Cryptocurrency-Based Credit Card Processing App For Legal Marijuana Industry

CALIFORNIA: Pro-cannabis cryptocurrency startup GreenMed has become the world’s first one-stop shop for electronic payments in the legal marijuana industry. The platform enables customers to pay for legal marijuana with credit and debit cards. Apart from allowing card payment at dispensaries, the platform also allows users to pre-purchase for quick pick-up over its app.

GreenMed is the first platform to implement an ERC20 Ethereum token-backed application for the convenience of both customers and legal marijuana dispensary operators. The platform uses cutting-edge electronic payment processing technology in conjunction with Ethereum blockchain to execute credit card transactions.

Due to strict federal regulations, banks have been unable to partner with legal marijuana dispensaries, leaving cryptocurrencies like Ethereum as one of the only options to help the $5 billion industry accept mainstream electronic payments like credit/debit cards and electronic fund transfers. They can also choose to pay with digital currencies.

While the GreenMed application allows patients to pay for their legal marijuana with credit cards and cryptocurrencies, merchants can be issued GreenMed debit cards which enable them to withdraw accumulated funds directly from any ATM. The GreenMed debit cards can also be used at PoS and online payment gateways to make purchases, just like any other debit card.

In addition to convenience, GreenMed also provides a secure option for legal marijuana dispensaries to handle their earnings. In the absence of such a solution, the dispensaries are forced to conduct all transactions in cash which not only increases the risk of theft but also cuts into the margins due to high operational costs involved in securing and transporting cash.

Largest U.S. Banks Host Accounts for Marijuana Businesses, Says American Banker

FLORIDA: A recent study commissioned by industry journal American Banker reveals that the nation’s four largest banks have opened accounts for pot shops and marijuana-related businesses. Conducted by MRB Monitor, a firm that helps financial institutions identify the risks associated with the marijuana industry, the study examined public records in the state of Massachusetts and found that 34 percent of businesses that filed to operate medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts between June 2015 and September 2016 had one or more accounts at Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, or JPMorgan Chase.

If a similar pattern of working with the marijuana industry takes hold in Washington D.C. and the U.S. states that have legalized marijuana, the prospect of financial services for cannabis outfits may not be as dire as it at first appears.

Bank of America seems to have been the most accommodating. Over half of the marijuana businesses included in the survey had accounts at the bank, though it previously told the Statesman Journal that, “As a federally regulated financial institution, we abide by federal law and do not bank marijuana-related businesses.”

Guidelines issued by federal authorities in 2014 appeared to have offered financial institutions a legal avenue to provide their services to marijuana-related businesses (MRBs). Back then, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), part of the U.S. Treasury Department, provided guidance[3] it said was meant to enhance the availability of financial services for, and the financial transparency of, marijuana-related businesses.

Yet, under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), it is illegal to manufacture, distribute, or dispense marijuana, and marijuana – like heroin, LSD and ecstasy – remains a Schedule 1 substance under the statute.

In December 2016, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, along with nine other senators sent a letter to FinCEN requesting guidance on how banking services might be offered to ‘indirect businesses’ that provide services to the state-sanctioned marijuana industry.

Hopefully, after nomination season comes to a close, a response to that letter will be forthcoming; there’s a lot at stake. As ArcView Market Research wrote, “Cannabis is arguably the fastest growing industry in the world. Regulated marijuana sales in North America totaled $6.9 billion in 2016, a 30 percent increase from 2015. Sales are projected to increase to $21.6 billion by the year 2021 representing a 26 percent compound annual growth rate.”

CannaScore Wins Banking Appeal – Has Account Fully Restored

COLORADO: CannaScore announced it is has been successful in its appeal, and its banking privileges have been restored. As reported here on MJ News Network last month, the company had certain banking privileges revoked when its financial services provider discovered the company was providing services to the marijuana industry. During the appeal, the company offered its products free of charge.

“Although we have full banking access again, we are still giving all customers a free trial of our award-winning cloud-based software,” said Thomas Smith, Managing Partner.

The CannaScore system audits compliance with a wide range of regulations governing the cannabis industry, including licensing, security, personnel safety, food handling, pesticides, and chemical exposure.

Legal cannabis growers, producer/processors, and retailers can use the system to identify areas of non-compliance before problems occur, and provide assurance that they are adhering to the myriad of state and local regulations. Failure to comply with regulations can often result in fines, shutdowns, license revocation and even prison.

Additionally, banks, insurance firms, accountants and real estate developers can use CannaScore as a tool to ensure that their clients operating in the cannabis sector are in compliance as mandated in the Cole Memo and finCEN Guidance.

CannaScore is easy to use, and quickly analyzes compliance that exceeds state parameters. The system also produces a score, which is useful for anyone in the cannabis industry, including consumers, to quickly evaluate the quality of an organization.

“Companies that score high may be more likely to attract funding, obtain favorable rates, demonstrate reliability to landlords, and even attract new customers,” Smith said.

More Than 100 Banks, Credit Unions Serving Pot Businesses: Feds

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: There are 105 U.S. financial institutions providing banking services to marijuana dispensaries and other pot businesses, a top federal official is expected to reveal in a speech Tuesday.

The speech provides the most detailed look yet at the impact of marijuana guidance the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued to banks and credit unions in February, though it’s unlikely to resolve the lingering doubts that many banks still have.

Marijuana shops, which generate large amounts of cash and can be targets of thieves, have been lobbying for more access to the mainstream financial system. The guidelines were meant to encourage financial institutions to do business with the industry provided they met certain criteria, and Fincen Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery is expected to declare that the agency’s goal has been achieved.

“From our perspective the guidance is having the intended effect,” Shasky will say, according to a copy of her prepared remarks that Fincen provided to American Banker. “It is facilitating access to financial services, while ensuring that this activity is transparent and the funds are going into regulated financial institutions.”

However, the speech does not say whether the guidance has made banks and credit unions any less wary of the risks involved in working with an industry that, while legal in around 20 states, is still banned under federal law. Banks and credit unions may be especially wary of the pot business at a time when many in the financial industry believe that regulators have heightened expectations with regard to their compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act.

When Fincen released its guidance, it sought to walk a fine line between encouraging banks to take the plunge and warning of the consequences if they failed to comply with a detailed series of guidelines.

Shasky is expected to say Tuesday that the 105 banks and credit unions with connections to the pot business are located in states representing more than a third of the country. That compares with 87 financial institutions in Colorado alone that had relationships with marijuana dispensary businesses between June 2011 and September 2012, according to a Fincen report from last year.

The 105 institutions that are currently working with marijuana firms represent less than 1% of all banks and credit unions nationwide.

Payment Options For Legal Medical Or Recreational Marijuana

COLORADO:  Buyers of state-legal medical marijuana or recreational marijuana use now have non-cash payment options.

The payment options now include credit, debit, prepaid cards, mobile applications, and Bitcoin, with some even including rewards programs.

The legal Marijuana business has its own trade group, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). NCIA’s focus is to provide merchant solutions. Being accepted as a NCIA member delivers a sort of Seal of Approval to a payment vendor.

This new niche in payments was created on 14 February 2014 when the US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued its guidence report. It specifies ways  financial institutions can provide services to Marijuana-related businesses.

 

The Feds’ Scary Reassurances To Banks That Deal With State-Licensed Marijuana Businesses

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  On Friday the Treasury Department and the Justice Department issued guidelines for banks that do business with state-licensed marijuana suppliers. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, the aim of the memos is to reassure financial institutions that are leery of accepting cannabusinesses as customers because they worry it will attract unwanted attention from federal regulators and prosecutors.

But as with the August 29 memo in which Deputy Attorney General James Cole said that prosecuting properly regulated marijuana growers and sellers would not be a high priority, there are no guarantees, and that fact is likely to deter traditionally cautious banks more than plucky cannabis entrepreneurs. [Read more…]

Your Money Stinks

COLORADO:  A Few years ago, a Boulder woman who owned one of Colorado’s first dispensaries ran into some troubles with her bank. As she later recounted, the bank told her the money she was depositing into her business account reeked of marijuana.

The bank was willing to take her money, but she would have to do something about the smell. Maybe Febreze would help. Her bank, in other words, asked her to literally launder her money.

Since then, the relationship between marijuana businesses and their banks has only become more fraught and complicated. Talk to anyone involved in Colorado’s marijuana industry—regulators, market players, law enforcement—and they’ll likely agree that the biggest obstacle to bringing marijuana out of the shadows is the industry’s inability to obtain basic banking services.

Marijuana Businesses May Get Good Banking News In Early 2014

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Marijuana businesses may not yet get a full green light on the banking rights that non-marijuana businesses already enjoy, but they are likely to get a “yellow light” as soon as the new year, Jack Finlaw, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper‘s  chief legal counsel, said on a joint call Thursday.

“What we’re being told,” Finlaw said on the call hosted by Drug Policy Alliance, “is probably in the first quarter of 2014 there will be some guidance issued that’s comparable to the Cole memo from the Department of Justice that will give, maybe not a green light, but a yellow light to banks to allow them to do business [with marijuana businesses] — to take deposits, to set up checking accounts, to set up small business loans, to allow these businesses to accept purchases through debit cards or credit cards, to allow what normal businesses are allowed to do.” [Read more…]

Marijuana Businesses May Get Good Banking News In Early 2014

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Marijuana businesses may not yet get a full green light on the banking rights that non-marijuana businesses already enjoy, but they are likely to get a “yellow light” as soon as the new year, Jack Finlaw, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper‘s  chief legal counsel, said on a joint call Thursday.

“What we’re being told,” Finlaw said on the call hosted by Drug Policy Alliance, “is probably in the first quarter of 2014 there will be some guidance issued that’s comparable to the Cole memo from the Department of Justice that will give, maybe not a green light, but a yellow light to banks to allow them to do business [with marijuana businesses] — to take deposits, to set up checking accounts, to set up small business loans, to allow these businesses to accept purchases through debit cards or credit cards, to allow what normal businesses are allowed to do.” [Read more…]