One of the most common hurdles that cannabis retailers face is securing a bank account for their business that is affordable, comprehensive and offers an easy approval. In this article, we explore the importance of why a cannabis operator would need a bank account, the challenges they encounter without one, and the steps they can take to obtain a bank account that is fully legal and compliant.
The Cannabis Banking Conundrum
The federal illegality of cannabis in the United States has led to a complex web of regulations and restrictions that impact the industry. Currently, federal regulations classify cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, leading many financial institutions to shy away from providing services to cannabis-related businesses.
However, the Drug Enforcement Agency recently received a recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services to reclassify cannabis as Schedule III drug instead of a Schedule I drug. The DEA is conducting a review to determine whether or not cannabis should be reclassified based on the regulatory criteria and HHS’s scientific and medical evaluation.
While this could significantly change the banking landscape, the DEA offered no guarantees and exercised its authority in a recent letter sent to Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair Rep. Earl Blumenauer. They emphasize that the “DEA has the final authority to schedule, reschedule, or deschedule a drug under the Controlled Substances Act.”
Importance of Bank Accounts for Cannabis Dispensaries
Unfortunately, cannabis retailers cannot afford to sit around and wait to be able to access traditional banking services from major financial institutions. There are countless reasons why having access to a bank account is so integral to running a dispensary. Let’s outline some of the most important reasons.
- Security and Safety: Without access to a bank account, cannabis dispensaries are forced to operate as cash-only businesses. This poses a serious security risk for both staff and customers, as the large amounts of cash on hand make them susceptible to theft and criminal activity. Having a bank account allows for secure transactions, reducing the risk of a wide variety of perils for cannabis operators. This may also be beneficial when selecting insurance and help you save on your policy especially if a retailer is able to migrate cash without the use of armored vehicles.
- Operational Efficiency: Traditional banking services offer a range of financial tools and services that can significantly enhance the operational efficiency of cannabis dispensaries. From payroll management to vendor payments to accepting cashless payments, having a bank account streamlines day-to-day financial transactions, allowing dispensaries to focus on providing quality products and customer service.
- Regulatory Compliance: Operating without a bank account makes it challenging for cannabis dispensaries to maintain proper financial records and adhere to regulatory requirements. Access to banking services facilitates transparency and accountability, helping dispensaries comply with tax regulations and other legal obligations.
- Access to Capital: Cannabis dispensaries often face difficulties in obtaining loans or lines of credit without a bank account. With access to traditional banking, these businesses can build creditworthiness, making securing financing for expansions, renovations, or other business needs easier.
- Legitimacy and Professionalism: The stigma surrounding the cannabis industry persists, and the lack of access to banking services only perpetuates the notion that these businesses operate in the shadows. Establishing a bank account adds a layer of legitimacy and professionalism, contributing to the normalization of the industry.
Finding a Trusted Banking Partner
Fortunately and thankfully, some banks and credit unions are offering bank accounts to cannabis dispensaries. However, the process of vetting these financial service providers can be time-consuming and frustrating if hurdles continue to get in the way. To streamline this process, BLAZE has carefully evaluated several of these providers to find a compliant and sustainable solution for cannabis retailers.
Greenbax Marketplace is a subsidiary of North Bay Credit Union and has been a trusted partner in the cannabis industry since 2017. This means they have a keen awareness of the challenges that dispensaries face and provide viable solutions.
These are just a few of the examples of the services that make them the clear choice for cannabis banking:
- Unlimited cash deposits with no extra fees. Just a flat monthly fee.
- Expedited account application processing in just 5 days.
- Mobile banking (including deposits), payroll, lending, and tax preparation.
- Armored car cash transport, smart safes, and cash vaulting.
- A direct number to your dedicated Account Manager.
Additionally, all BLAZE-powered cannabis retailers receive 50% off monthly account fees and reduced fees for electronic payment processing.
They go to great lengths with their individualized service and technology to normalize our banking despite the obvious challenges. I'd recommend, and regularly do, any cannabis operator bank with Greenbax Marketplace."
How Dispensaries Can Open a Bank Account
The process of opening a bank account with Greenbax Marketplace is fairly easy. The first step is to apply with Greenbax Marketplace or feel free to consult with a BLAZE account specialist who can connect you to a Greenbax representative. The account manager will walk you through the application process and provide a list of required documentation that will accompany the application. Once the application is complete, it will be submitted and oftentimes approved in as little as five days.
Opening a bank account is the first step to building a business that can operate efficiently and scale to multiple locations. Not only does it provide protections for cash-heavy dispensaries but also opens up opportunities for cashless payment methods and inventory lending that can increase your average order value and reduce your profit margins. While it’s important to continue to advocate for financial cannabis reform, dispensaries can now feel confident that their bank account is secure, compliant, and sustainable.