Bank's busting out
Last week, in the process of finding a new bank for the local medical marijuana industry, Tanya Garduno found herself facing a secret meeting, at a location to be revealed by text message, with an unknown financial institution. (An agreement was made, but Garduno, president of the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, declined to name the company.)
It was secret because banks have been finding the legal scrutiny and additional paperwork that comes with handling a few hundred MMJ accounts to be onerous. This continued when the most recent bank to the industry, Colorado Springs State Bank, said last week it would be "exiting" some 250 accounts by the end of September.
"They decided in Texas — that's where their underwriters are from — they weren't going to pursue anything further in this industry," says Garduno. "Which is odd, because they actually tried to set up a private bank, and we were gonna start transitioning specifically to be a private MMJ bank, you know, sponsored via them; they even hired a VP in Denver to [get] it going."
CSSB senior vice president Alan Gregory says it was more than "a Texas decision," adding, "It was a collaborative decision that included the bank's management, the board of directors. ... We did have input from federal regulators that we took into consideration, but they didn't actually drive the decision."
One of the reasons cited by previous institutions, including TCF Bank, is the frequent need to file currency transaction reports — a report for any transaction that exceeds $10,000, the filing of which Gregory says is really no big deal.
"That's all just part of what every bank has to go through," he says. "These businesses are like grocery stores, in that there are a lot of cash transactions, but that's true in several lines of business."
• Join the protest to support Springs resident Bob Crouse at 7:30 a.m. today, Aug. 18, at the El Paso County Courthouse (270 S. Tejon St., 271-8430). Crouse is a 63-year-old leukemia sufferer charged with two felonies for cultivation and distribution of marijuana, which he used to treat his symptoms.
• Join Sensible Colorado's executive director Brian Vicente at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21, at the 31st annual Telluride Mushroom Festival (shroomfest.com) as he presents "Hot Topics in Marijuana Policy."
• Westword's dispensary critic William Breathes recently named Twirling Hippy Confections' (twirlinghippy.com) caramel pecan turtles as the best edible on the market.
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