When Ohio’s medical marijuana dispensaries finally open their doors later this year or early next year, they’re expected to rake in a ton of cash.
But they’re unlikely to head straight to the bank with it.
Most banks and credit unions won’t handle proceeds from marijuana-related businesses because the drug is still considered an illegal controlled substance by the federal government.
Consequently, companies providing financial services to marijuana-related businesses could be subject to prosecution for money laundering and other federal crimes.
Most aren’t willing to take the risk, forfeiting billions of dollars in potential deposits from marijuana growers, processors, retail dispensaries and other related businesses.
Regulated marijuana sales in North American are projected to reach $24 billion by 2021 – more than double the $10 billion in sales forecast for this year, according to research from Arcview and BDS Analytics.
Ohio will account for a small fraction of that amount. But the the state is still expected to generate $300 million in annual sales of medical marijuana over the same period.
“We as an industry are really stuck between a rock and hard place on this,” said James Thurston, a spokesman for the Ohio Bankers League, representing about 230 banks. [Read more at The Cincinnati Enquirer]