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.
“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.