Marijuana can be sold legally in 36 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) for medical use and in 15 of them and in D.C. for recreational purposes. But it’s still illegal on a federal level, meaning most banks won’t service the industry in case they fall afoul of money laundering laws.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing legalisation driving a surge in cannabis use, the sector’s producers, manufacturers and retailers are awash in cash, adding risk and costs to the most basic business transactions from paying employees and filing taxes to finding somewhere to store their income.
Ryan Hale, a U.S. Navy veteran and co-founder of cash management firm Operational Security Solutions, had to persuade a weed farmer in California to stop hiding cash in a tree. On another occasion, Hale had to help a bewildered cannabis retailer who had lost count of the dollar bills overflowing from his store’s lockers.