Cannabis is still federally illegal and is included on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), along with such other substances as heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamines.1 It is a federal crime to grow, possess or sell cannabis. Despite being federally illegal, 36 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized the sale and use of cannabis for medical and/or adult-use purposes,2 and both direct and indirect cannabis-related businesses (CRBs) are growing at a rapid rate. Revenue from medical and adult-use cannabis sales in the US in 2019 is estimated to have reached $10.6B-$13B and is on track to reach nearly $37B in 2024.3 Because the sale of cannabis is federally illegal, financial institutions face a dilemma when deciding to provide services to CRBs. Should they take a significant legal risk or stay out of the market and miss out on a significant revenue opportunity? So far, the vast majority of financial institutions have been unwilling to take the risk, resulting in a dearth of options for CRB’s. Until recently, cannabis business operators had few options for financial services, but times are changing. The explosion of state legalization of cannabis over the past several years has had a strong ripple effect across the US economy, touching many industries both directly and indirectly. Understanding the implications of doing business with a CRB is both challenging and necessary.
Paula Durham, Cannabis Industry Journal, 08/25/2021 12:03:00