There is a perception that major banking institutions avoid payment processing for Marijuana merchants. This perception is false, however, as more banks are now revealing their dealings with marijuana merchants since the Obama administration released new guidelines on how financial institutions can legally do business with cannabis dealers. Recently the chief executive officer of a Nevada bank reported that they would do business with dispensaries that will be opening there.
John Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of First Security Bank of Nevada, told KNPR, “Frankly, I didn’t personally follow any of this until about two months ago… (but then) we began to get phone calls from attorneys, and they represented some very influential people in Las Vegas with a long history of being strong supporters of the city.” He continues, “These are not the sort of people that are in dark shadows or they’re coming in from somewhere else…these are local people who have spent their life here and they have an unblemished reputation in all ways.”
Sullivan admitted that he was skeptical at first of the growing cannabis banking trends, but after reviewing research on the industry and reading the recent banking guidelines set out by the federal government, he and the First Security Bank of Nevada board decided to proceed.
After looking at all of the facts, Sullivan noted, ““It became clear that the attitudes of the federal government – both the bank regulatory agencies as well as the Department of Justice – are quickly changing.”
First Security Bank of Nevada hopes to be able to start payment processing for Marijuana merchants soon. As the first bank in Nevada to openly admit to dealing with cannabis dealers, other banks contemplating doing business with marijuana merchants will be watching their interaction with the government carefully.
New government regulations have started a flood of applications from aspiring cannabis businesses into Nevada. As marijuana becomes legal in states throughout the nation, each one is left to decide how to process and grant licenses. In Clark County, Nevada, applicants will be required to organize a six minute pitch to the county commissioners and the public over a three day period. The commissioner board will then select 18 finalists and forward them to the state for final approval.
SEC WATCHING CANNABIS STOCKS
Cannabis stock trading is coming under scrutiny by the SEC as the industry is starting to boom. After temporarily suspending five cannabis-related stocks, the SEC warned investors about committing fraud within the sector. A year ago there were only a dozen publicly traded companies in the cannabis market, now there are more than 100.
Now the SEC is keeping a close watch on a sector that is used to coloring outside of the lines. With reports of shady investors, fudged financial numbers, and questionable business practices. Most marijuana merchants are frustrated by these practices. They note if the marijuana industry wants to be taken seriously, it must clean up its act.
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