Shannon Price | Adobe Stock
State-legal cannabis companies aren’t stashing large stacks of cash behind walls or rubber-banded bankrolls in hidden vaults.
Helping motor more than $17.5 billion of legal cannabis sales in the U.S. in 2020, there were 515 banks and 169 credit unions providing services to cannabis-related businesses at the end of last year, according to Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) quarterly cannabis banking update.
But those banks are not the “national associations” of the world. Big financial institutions, like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and PNC, are not going to get into the cannabis space directly, unless there’s more formalized federal reform, said Jonathan Havens, a partner at Saul, Ewing, Arnstein and Lehr’s Philadelphia-based law firm.
Counseling clients on regulatory, compliance, enforcement and transactional matters, Havens has companies in the cannabis industry turn to him for advice on how to get and keep their products on the market, where access to banking comes in handy.
According to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s FinCEN, banks can accept cannabis-related deposits, but there are several compliance steps those institutions need to take, such as filing Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). When the FinCEN issued guidance in 2014 to clarify the expectations for financial