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 However, that memo was rescinded by the Justice Department earlier this year.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.

 

Mounting Support for Marijuana Banking Has Widespread Implications

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Although 28 states have already legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to label marijuana a Schedule 1 substance, along with heroin and LSD, making it illegal on a federal level. As a result, the banking industry has been slow to provide services to marijuana businesses, forcing many of these companies to operate on a cash-only basis.

Cash transaction businesses are a tempting target for thieves, and the lack of oversight at times leads to lost tax revenue. It’s a situation that Senator Elizabeth Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, is anxious to change. As the Associated Press initially reported, Warren and nine other senators have called upon the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to issue new and stronger guidance allowing banks to provide services to marijuana shop vendors. The moves are a significant encouragement to payment processors supporting the cannabis industry, as well as other industry players.

One of the supporters is Singlepoint, Inc. (OTC: SING), a mobile technology and payments provider, which, through its “SingleSeed” Payments subsidiary, provides payment solutions for the cannabis industry. Its mobile marketing and payment solutions include cashless ATM, Pay-by-Text™ and text message marketing. The company is strongly encouraged by the efforts of Senator Warren and others on Capitol Hill, and the significant positive changes they could bring.

Previous guidance efforts by the U.S. Department of the Treasury gave banks only limited permission to work with legal marijuana businesses. Along with the DEA’s Schedule 1 listing, it has created a significant gap between state and federal treatment of marijuana. Even though the number of financial institutions willing to provide services to marijuana businesses has grown significantly in recent years, only a small percentage currently serve the industry. It’s still an area dominated by small state-chartered banks and credit unions.

Supporters however see an inevitable day, through efforts such as those now being led by Senator Warren, when large national banks like Wells Fargo offer comprehensive services to the cannabis industry, further spurring already rapid industry growth.

Blue Line Helps Pot Businesses With Risk, Compliance

COLORADO: While organizers work to get a marijuana credit union off the ground in Colorado — and possibly financial cooperatives for pot-related businesses that were approved by the Legislature last spring — an entire cottage industry of security and transportation specialists has popped up here to deal with the cash-heavy sector.

Lakewood-based Blue Line Protection Group is among the highest-profile companies in the growing security sector, and its services go beyond armed guards and armored transport.

Many of Blue Line’s 70 employees are military veterans and former law enforcement officers, and they provide secured transportation, state and federal regulatory compliance, and more.

Seattle Credit Union Moves Toward Serving Marijuana Growers

WASHINGTON: The Seattle-based nonprofit once known as Group Health Credit Union changed its name in 2010 to evoke a green, leafy, hardy plant seen as having medicinal properties.

No, not that one.

But four years later, what is now Salal Credit Union is gingerly stepping into a different field of green by doing business with growers of the cannabis plant.

In an apparent first for Western Washington that could ease fears that truckloads of cash will be a magnet for crime, Salal says openly that it expects to provide bank accounts for some state-licensed marijuana growers and processors.

The credit union plans a “beta test” with a couple of the businesses in the next few weeks, expanding soon to others in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties if all goes well, Salal CEO Russ Rosendal said.

Marijuana Co-Op Finance Bill Refuses To Die In Colorado Statehouse

COLORADO:  A late bill to create co-ops to finance the marijuana industry has come back from a near-death experience.

House Bill 1398 got off to a strong start Thursday in the House Business Committee, only to get gutted late that evening in the House Finance Committee before House Appropriations restored the original version Friday morning and sent the measure to a vote on the House floor.

The bill puts a twist on the credit-union model by creating cannabis credit co-ops for licensed pot businesses and their affiliates who are currently blocked from the traditional banking system because of federal prohibitions on marijuana.

“This sets up a structure of a new type of financial structure to the gap we’re seeing between banking and the marijuana industry,” testified sponsor Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Boulder. “It’s the only solution we see.”

Marijuana Taxes in Colorado — An Early Clue

COLORADO: Across America, lawmakers are eyeing tax revenue from legalized marijuana. Colorado and Washington are each officially expecting over $100 million annually in marijuana excise taxes. In a few days, the Colorado Department of Revenue is due to report how much marijuana tax was paid there for January, the first full month of recreational sales anywhere ever.

But the report on January collections will tell us next to nothing about what other states can expect, and only a little about Colorado. You can multiply January taxes by 12, but that won’t show annual marijuana revenue the state can count on from now on — for two reasons. First, the mature market will not resemble the start-up January market. Second, Colorado will start taxing some transactions that it exempted in January.

Start-up Uncertainties

In future months, Colorado’s industry will probably sell more grams of marijuana than it sold in January, but at lower prices. More grams will pull taxes up. Lower prices will push taxes down. It’s not clear where taxes will end up.

 

Governor: Colorado Pot Market Exceeds Tax Hopes

COLORADO:  Colorado’s legal marijuana market is far exceeding tax expectations, according to a budget proposal released Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper that gives the first official estimate of how much the state expects to make from pot taxes.

The proposal outlines plans to spend some $99 million next fiscal year on substance abuse prevention, youth marijuana use prevention and other priorities. The money would come from a statewide 12.9 percent sales tax on recreational pot. Colorado’s total pot sales next fiscal year were estimated to be about $610 million.

Retail sales began Jan. 1 in Colorado. Sales have been strong, though exact figures for January sales won’t be made public until early next month.

The governor predicted sales and excise taxes next fiscal year would produce some $98 million, well above a $70 million annual estimate given to voters when they approved the pot taxes last year. The governor also includes taxes from medical pot, which are subject only to the statewide 2.9 percent sales tax.

High Times Launches $100 Million Growth Fund Despite Climate Of Uncertainty

NEW YORK: Why is everybody buzzing about silly ol’ David Brooks? We have more important pot-related news to talk about.

High Times, the largest cannabis-related publication in the world, recently announced that it is making moves to establish a private equity fund to provide legitimate pot startups with much-needed capital. [Read more…]

High Times Launches $100 Million Growth Fund Despite Climate Of Uncertainty

NEW YORK: Why is everybody buzzing about silly ol’ David Brooks? We have more important pot-related news to talk about.

High Times, the largest cannabis-related publication in the world, recently announced that it is making moves to establish a private equity fund to provide legitimate pot startups with much-needed capital. [Read more…]

Banking Regs Are Next Hurdle For Legal Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The federal government is taking a hands-off approach to state marijuana legalization schemes, at least for the time being. But as Washington and Colorado begin to create the regulatory framework for legal marijuana, they may require some federal help. [Read more…]