Cannabis Banking: All Businesses are Marijuana Related Businesses

All U.S. businesses are marijuana related businesses (MRBs). By “all” I mean everyone from Amazon to your local hardware store, with very few exceptions. Allow me to explain.

Guidance on banking and MRBs

Over eight years ago, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network published the FinCen Memorandum of February 14, 2014 (“FinCen Memo”). FinCen is a Bureau within the U.S. Department of Treasury. Its mission is to combat money laundering and financial crimes. I’ve written that in cannabis years, the FinCen Memo is as old as dirt and reads like a relic of a bygone era. However, since companion guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice on “Marijuana Related Financial Crimes” was rescinded in 2018, the FinCen Memo has been the only game in town for federal banking guidance.

People often cite the FinCen Memo as creating the three “tiers” into which banks and credit unions triage MRBs for know-your-customer (KYC) and screening purposes. That’s wrong. The FinCen Memo doesn’t mention tiers at all. The closest we have to a federal framework is from this 2018 SBA Policy Notice, which categorizes MRBs as “direct”, “indirect”, and “hemp-related businesses.” But banks don’t really use that.

Instead, early industry adopters — like our pioneering credit

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