The bank reportedly decided to terminate the account after being told the candidate’s campaign would accept donations from MMJ-related entities.
Florida political candidate Nikki Fried claims that Wells Fargo Bank recently terminated her bank account because of her stance on marijuana.
On Monday (August 20), Fried’s campaign shared the details of what transpired.
According to the Washington Post, Wells Fargo asked if Fried, who is running for Florida agriculture commissioner, would accept donations from the medical marijuana industry.
When the campaign replied that it would accept donations “from lobbyists for the medical marijuana industry, as well as from executives, employees and corporations in the medical marijuana industry,” the bank decided to terminate Fried’s account, citing its “responsibility to oversee and manage banking risks.”
According to the campaign, the decision had to do with the candidate’s “relationship to the medical marijuana industry.”
Wells Fargo’s decision once again sheds light on the complicated relationship between the legal marijuana industry and financial institutions.
A rep for Wells Fargo stated that it is the bank’s policy “not to knowingly bank or provide services to marijuana businesses or for activities related to those businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is illegal even if state laws differ.”
Businesses operating in states where marijuana is legal in some form must contend with the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. In fact, by the federal government’s definition, cannabis is as dangerous as heroin—defined as “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
As Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stated, the disparity between state and federal marijuana laws “puts federally chartered banks in a very difficult situation.”
As a result of many banks’ reluctance to deal with legal marijuana businesses, many must operate as cash-only, making them a target for robberies.
However, new data shows that the tide might be turning. In June, Forbes reported that the number of banks and credit unions that are willing to work with marijuana businesses has been “steadily climbing.”
The data came from a report from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
Fried criticized Wells Fargo’s decision to terminate her campaign’s account. “Wells Fargo’s actions against my campaign are emblematic of what is wrong with our government and politics today,” she said in a Monday press conference.