Marijuana legalization advocate Cher Neufer queued up at a Cincinnati post office in mid-June expecting to mail a t-shirt to a donor.
Instead, she was met with the message every shopper dreads: card denied.
A few phone calls later, Neufer discovered that PNC had closed the account for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana’s Ohio branch without notice, leaving all seven of its regional chapters without access to funds.
Over the next several weeks, Neufer – the organization’s director – approached five banks, including Chase Bank, Huntington and Farmers National Bank, before finding a Wells Fargo branch over two hours from her hometown of Lodi that would accept NORML’s business.
PNC also closed the account of the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project, another marijuana legalization advocacy group, in June.
“PNC does not comment on customer accounts,” said Diane Zappas, director of corporate reputation. “As a federally regulated financial institution, PNC complies with all applicable federal regulations.
Neufer, who founded the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ Ohio branch in 2001, said she thinks they are afraid of running afoul of the federal government.Since marijuana is classified by the federal government as a schedule one drug, people in the cannabis industry cannot use banks without risking having their assets seized by the government, even in states where medical and recreational cannabis use has been legalized, forcing them to deal entirely in cash. [Read more at Cincinnati.com]