More Banks Open Marijuana Accounts Under Trump

By Tom Angell | June 07, 2017

New federal data shows a sharp increase in the number of banks opening accounts for marijuana businesses since President Trump’s inauguration.

A report from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released this week shows that 368 banks and credit unions had active accounts for cannabis companies as of March. The number of depositary institutions working with the marijuana industry is up roughly 10 percent since Trump moved into the White House.

The 34 new banks that began providing financial services to cannabis businesses between February and March represents the single greatest monthly increase recorded in the new report.

The increase runs contrary to widespread fears that anti-marijuana comments from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer could spook mainstream companies from working with the cannabis industry.

The new FinCEN report also indicates that there were at least roughly 1,600 active individual marijuana business bank accounts in the U.S. as of March.

Despite the growth in the number of banks willing to work with marijuana businesses and Obama administration guidance intended to encourage more to do so, many have remained reluctant in light of continuing federal prohibition laws.

That means many cannabis growers and sellers conduct transactions in cash only, which makes them targets for robberies.

Those public safety concerns have spurred efforts in Congress to pass legislation providing additional protections sought by the financial services industry and cannabis businesses.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House Rules Committee blocked floor consideration of an amendment that would have prevented the Treasury Department from punishing banks that work with the marijuana industry.

Bipartisan standalone House and Senate bills to increase cannabis businesses’ access to banks have continued to gain cosponsors but haven’t yet been scheduled for hearings.

In 2014, a marijuana banking amendment to Treasury Department appropriations legislation passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 231 to 192 but the language was not included in that year’s final enacted spending bill, and similar measures have since been prevented from coming to the floor.

FinCEN uploaded the new data in response to frequent Freedom of Information Act requests seeking it.

Tom Angell

Tom Angell is a senior political correspondent for MassRoots. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit Marijuana Majority and is editor of the daily Marijuana Moment newsletter.

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