Bank of Pot: Why some banks are diving into the Marijuana business

From pot producers to wholesalers, banks are largely uninterested in dealing with the legal questions and increased compliance of marijuana-related clientele. The result is that many legal growers and dispensaries have gone to extreme lengths to keep cash safe, often storing it in locked offices, one $20 bill at a time.

But a select few banks are using marijuana to their advantage, carving out a niche as banker to the marijuana trade, an industry that rakes in billions of dollars and can be needle-moving for the smallest of institutions.


How a Maryland bank is quietly solving the marijuana industry's cash problem

Most banks refuse to open accounts for cannabis-related businesses even in states where pot is legal, citing federal laws that outlaw the drug and consider it on par with cocaine and heroin.

In Maryland, however, at least one community bank is working with the state’s newly launched medical marijuana industry, offering growers and stores a way to avoid the security concerns and extra costs of a cash-only approach.

Two marijuana dispensaries and two growers told The Washington Postthey have opened business accounts with Severn Savings Bank, an Annapolis-based community bank owned by the publicly traded Severn Bancorp. Three other businesses involved in the industry say they know of additional cannabis companies also banking with Severn.


In these states, past marijuana crimes can go away

Some states have made it possible for people to hide past convictions for possession, cultivation and manufacture of marijuana.

When Californians voted to legalize marijuana last year, they also voted to let people petition courts to reduce or hide convictions for past marijuana crimes. State residents can now petition courts to change some felonies to misdemeanors, change some misdemeanors to infractions, and wipe away convictions for possessing or growing small amounts of the drug.

“We call it reparative justice: repairing the harms caused by the war on drugs,” says Eunisses Hernandez of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group that helped write the California ballot initiative.


'A very real danger': US attorney general's views on marijuana create uncertainty over medical ...

At the moment, Leah Heise's soon-to-open dispensary in Baltimore is just an empty room. She hopes that by early next year, she will be selling medical marijuana to those in need.

But she is nervous that dream could end prematurely.

"And not that it could just change. It could come to a screeching halt and there is no recourse for that," she says.

"You're not going to get your money back out of this type of venture if the federal government decides to shut everyone down."

Heise is troubled by recent moves made by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"I have concerns that he is not impartial," she says. "I don't think that he is looking at this issue with an open mind."


Maryland hopes to begin dispensing medical marijuana soon

A Maryland facility has become the first on the state’s Eastern Shore to be given a medical marijuana dispensary license as businesses in the state prepare to finally begin distributing the drug.

The Daily Times reports Peninsula Alternative Health in Salisbury received a license from the Medical Cannabis Commission earlier this week.

Click here to view article.


Inaction in Congress threatens Maryland medical marijuana

Maryland’s medical marijuana program, finally about to launch, could remain grounded if Congress fails to extend limits on federal prosecutions for using and selling the drug.

Under pressure from the anti-cannabis Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the House of Representatives is balking at preserving an Obama-era provision that gives the states space to decide their own approaches to regulating the drug.


First Maryland medical cannabis crop grown but not yet for sale

The first crop in Maryland’s long-delayed medical cannabis program is mature and waiting for testing, but it is still unclear when patients might be able to buy it.

And industry officials caution that when it is ready for sale, there will not be nearly enough to meet market demand.

“This industry is in its infancy,” Patrick Jameson, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, said Tuesday.

“No one should have any expectations,” he said. “The initial supply of medical cannabis will be limited.”

The nascent industry has grown in fits and starts, beset by delays, court cases and a complete overhaul of the commission this summer.


Medical marijuana is life-changing drug for young girl with seizures

Children from across Maryland had their first day of school. But it hasn’t been an easy road for one Dundalk girl. Many are calling her journey to the classroom a miracle.

Amy Yensi reports from Dundalk, her mother says medical marijuana has been a life-saver.

Three-year-old Lillyann Baker, arrives at the Battle Monument School, for another year of learning.

“Just knowing that she actually made it to be in school it makes us happy,” says her mom Cassandra Stefan.

The smile on her face hasn’t always been there. Lillyann suffered a traumatic head injury as an infant and had to be put in a medically-induced coma. She was having multiple seizures on a daily basis, and two powerful anti-seizure medications weren’t helping.


Meet the companies launching Maryland's cannabis industry

After years of delays, lawsuits and other controversy, 14 firms in Maryland are now growing or poised to grow legal medical marijuana, firing up the supply chain for a market that’s expected to reach a quarter billion dollars annually.

The entrepreneurs who were awarded the lucrative licenses to produce the plant have largely stayed out of the limelight as they built multimillion-dollar facilities, fended off legal challenges and raced to get growing before lawmakers could authorize more licenses.

A Baltimore Sun review of state records shows that Maryland’s first legal marijuana cultivators come from a range of backgrounds, drawing on experience in pharmaceuticals, restaurants, nurseries, medicine, real estate, law enforcement and liquor distribution.


Medical-marijuana plants start to grow in MD

The first legal crop of marijuana has started to grow in Maryland, and industry officials said products should be available in medical-marijuana dispensaries by 2018.


At least two licensed cultivators have marijuana plants growing, including ForwardGro in Anne Arundel County, Md., and Curio Wellness in Baltimore County, Md.

The cannabis seeds were planted four years after Maryland legalized the plant for medical use.

Since then, nearly 20 companies have been cleared to grow, process and sell the plant.


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