MBank to Close Marijuana Business Accounts

   

In a big blow against Oregon cannabis businesses, Gresham-based MBank, one of the few banks openly doing business with the marijuana industry, announced that they will be closing all marijuana-related business accounts within the next few months. MBank made waves in Oregon and across the country when they announced that they would open accounts for the marijuana industry, then again when the bank ventured across state lines into Colorado and then once again when they abruptly shut down the Colorado experiment (raising the ire of Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer who suspected improper federal meddling).

Portland Business Journal reports:

“MBank entered the business to provide quality banking services to a growing but underserved industry. However, through our experience the past nine months as a pioneer in this new business sector, we determined the bank is not big enough to provide and support all of the compliance components required,” said MBank President and CEO Jef Baker in a prepared statement

Denied checking and credit services, pot entrepreneurs are forced to handle large sums of cash, which is cumbersome to account for and alluring to thieves.

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“We regret our exit from this business channel leaves them once again without banking services. This is not their failure or ours. It is yet another learning step as the banking and marijuana industry try to find solutions that work for all.”

It often seems that the cannabis law reform movement takes a step back every time we take a few steps forward. The momentum is clearly in our favor as polling and electoral victories across the nation demonstrate. However, it is a downer (man) that MBank is closing its cannabis accounts the day after United States Senator Ron Wyden announced that he was going to work with fellow Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley on banking reform at an historic press conference announcing that 280e tax reform bills would be filed in both the United States House and Senate. I really feel for the state-regulated cannabis businesses that thought they had found a good home with MBank, probably after suffering through several other bank account closures.

The marijuana industry wants to do the right thing and come above board and pay taxes just like any other business, but that damn pesky federal law always has to interfere, hurting not only the cannabis industry, but the general public as well. Forcing marijuana businesses to carry large amounts of cash creates unnecessary danger and pushes good people underground. While this is just the latest step back, the cannabis law reform movement will soon take a few more steps forward and setbacks like this only motivate advocates to work even harder to fight for true equality for our industry and community.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.