Friday, August 12, 2011

The exodus continues: Bank dumps local MMJ accounts

Posted By on Fri, Aug 12, 2011 at 2:24 PM

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How weird is the relationship between the banking and medical marijuana industries? Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council president Tanya Garduno has a secret meeting today, with an unknown bank, at an unknown location that won't be revealed until she receives a text shortly before the meeting's set to begin.

Of course, the reason for the secrecy's no secret at all: Banks are affected by regulations on a federal level, as well as local, and fear the loss of licensure — or even criminal charges of money laundering — for servicing MMJ accounts. Which is the reason Garduno, and scores more of business owners across the Colorado Springs area, are scrambling right now.

Their main money guy, Colorado Springs State Bank — the same bank center owners turned to after TCF Bank dumped accounts — has received direction from its Texas office that center owners are no longer welcome, says a release from the Cannabis Council.

We've left a message with senior vice president Alan Gregory at CSSB to confirm the news. (We did later reach Gregory — see more here.) In the meantime, the release says, "the branch here isn't happy to lose us and don't like that they made us promises they can't keep. That being said, they have not yet started to send the 'official' letters to business owners but you should expect that to come soon."

"We have a bank on the line and we'll be meeting with them later today to get confirmation that we can start opening accounts. Unlike when we moved to CSSB, the banks involved want a much calmer and more controlled influx of accounts so they have asked us to help coordinate this transition," writes Garduno, referencing the meeting noted earlier. "We will be working in groups of 10-12 centers to get them into the bank and set up. We'll also work with those folks and CSSB so the transition is a seamless as possible. The transition will take time depending on how many services you are using with CSSB. We are also working with merchant services so we can make sure those services transition appropriately as well."

Look for more in next week's Independent. In the mean time, here's a video of CSSB executives talking at a conference last year:

We’re committed to serving this industry in the realm of banking services. We realize the frustrations this industry has had to deal with; we’ve been committed since earlier this year. We are a privately held bank — been owned by the same family for a little bit over 111 years, now. We feel that we’re the right institution to serve this industry.

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