Banks Still Leery Of Pot Businesses Despite New Marijuana Banking Guidelines

Jennifer Shasky Calvery

Jennifer Shasky Calvery

Since the federal government issued a set of marijuana banking guidelines that supposedly made it easier for pot-related businesses to open bank accounts, less than one percent of all American banks and financial institutions are actually accepting cannabis companies as customers. Only 105 banks indicated they had a banking relationship with marijuana-related businesses, according to statistics cited by the Denver Post.

Still, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, insisted the low number of banks accepting marijuana-related accounts is a sign the new marijuana banking guidelines are working. The Post reports Calvery revealed the statistics in Washington D.C. during an anti-money laundering conference. The guidelines were put in place for states where marijuana has been legalized for medical and recreational use.

Between February, when the marijuana banking guidelines were put in place, and August, the 105 banks filed 502 suspcious activity reports that were “marijuana limited.” That means that the businesses did not violate any of eight rules the February guidance cautioned against, such as selling to minors or trafficking across state lines. A single business could generate more than one SAR.

However, some banks filed 123 SARs that indicated a business had indeed broken one of those ruless. In addition, 475 SARs show banks terminated a relationship with a marijuana-related business during the six months the new marijuana banking guidelines went into effect. As a result, 350 law enforcement agencies have swooped in, running more than one million queries against the SARs database to build cases against those businesses violating the guidelines.