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Banks Close MMJ Business Accounts

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COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. -- Despite the fact medical marijuana is legal in Colorado, banks across the state are refusing to do business with dispensary owners.

As of Sept. 30, there are no banks in the state that will openly work with local medical marijuana dispensaries. Banks that once worked with such businesses have closed hundreds of accounts in fear of being prosecuted by federal regulators. Even though the sale and distribution of medical marijuana is legal in 16 states, as well as Washington, D.C., it is also a federal offense.

It's that grey area of federal versus state regulation that has some medical marijuana dispensary owners in Colorado Springs feeling like their business is being targeted.

"We are a very regulated industry," Jesse Vriese, general manager of Green Love Wellness, said. "We have more regulation that a brothel, than alcohol, almost than nuclear industries. It doesn't seem right that we are being so targeted through our banking."

When he learned of state banks closing their doors to businesses like his, Vriese knew it would be yet another hurdle for the medical marijuana industry.

"We're trying to stay transparent," he said. "We're trying to be compliant with the law, but that's very hard to do when someone says you have to go all cash."

Green Love Wellness had an account with Colorado Springs State Bank before they closed all medical marijuana accounts Friday. After applying to dozens of banks in Colorado and outside the state, Vriese was able to find another bank to accept his deposits. However, he would not reveal which bank, in fear the publicity would prompt them to close his account.

"We're meeting in secret with our bank," he said. "That shouldn't happen."

Vriese said many local dispensaries have become cash-only businesses, which he believes is a dangerous business model for both owners and customers. With large amounts of cash on-site, Vriese said the dispensary would be an even bigger target for criminals, forcing the business owner to install "bank-like security."

"We have patients that come in here in wheelchairs," Vriese said. "We can't have them come in and navigate a bank teller window. This is ridiculous."

Vriese said he runs a legitimate business and thinks banks need to provide him and businesses like his the opportunity to do so.

"We're following every single law that we can follow, and the banking industry needs to step up and say, 'They're following the laws, so are we.'" Vriese said.

In a report with Fox Business, John Whitten, Senior Vice President of Colorado State Bank, said they did not want to have to close their medical marijuana accounts, but until the differences between the federal and state policies on cannabis are reconciled, dispensaries will continue to encounter difficulties finding a banker.

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News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: coloradoconnection.com
Author: Kelly Werthmann
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Barrington Broadcasting Group, LLC
Website: Banks close MMJ business accounts
 
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