Watch CBS News

Maryland's Attorney General wants banking restrictions that impact weed dispensaries changed

Why big banks can't provide services to cannabis dispensaries
Why big banks can't provide services to cannabis dispensaries 02:00

BALTIMORE -- Despite the growing number of states that have legalized cannabis for adult use, cannabis is still considered an illegal substance under federal law, preventing most big banks from providing services to dispensaries.  

Now, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown is urging congressional leaders to change that. 

The cannabis industry is booming, but dispensaries are constantly jumping through hoops just to facilitate transactions.

CFO of Nature's Care and Wellness in Perryville, Robert Windsor said while business has taken off since Maryland legalized recreational cannabis, it has been an uphill battle behind the scenes.

"It's been very challenging for the cannabis industry when it comes to banking," said Windsor.

Because cannabis is still considered illegal under federal law, big banks could risk civil or criminal liability for providing services to state-licensed dispensaries—making it difficult for these businesses to find funding.

"Just because I'm affiliated with the cannabis industry, they wanted me to bank elsewhere," Windsor said.

The banking restrictions have also caused issues when it comes to processing transactions, leaving many dispensaries only able to accept cash.  

"I had been through several processing companies that said they can do it and I would get shut down like four months later," said Windsor.

This week, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown announced that he is leading a coalition of 22 Attorneys General to urge Congress to advance the Safer Banking Act of 2023, which would lift those banking restrictions.

Brown said in a press release: 

"Legal cannabis businesses should have access to funding that provides them opportunities equal to other industries to grow, contribute to the economy, and create new jobs. This is particularly important for small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses, which have faced disproportionately high barriers to accessing funding."

Windsor said he was eventually able to find a processing system that would let them accept credit cards, but the safer banking act would provide stability.

"How long will that last? I have no idea," said Windsor. "It's a serious challenge constantly and we're maneuvering however we can to try to creatively bank the money."

Windsor said some banks like CFG have figured out a way to work with cannabis businesses and he hopes more banks can do the same.

Read the letter from the Attorneys General to congressional leaders here:

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.