By Aaron Gregg,
Most banks refuse to open accounts for cannabis-related businesses even in states where pot is legal, citing federal laws that outlaw the drug and consider it on par with cocaine and heroin.
In Maryland, however, at least one community bank is working with the state’s newly launched medical marijuana industry, offering growers and stores a way to avoid the security concerns and extra costs of a cash-only approach.
Two marijuana dispensaries and two growers told The Washington Post they have opened business accounts with Severn Savings Bank, an Annapolis-based community bank owned by the publicly-traded Severn Bancorp. Three other businesses involved in the industry say they know of additional cannabis companies also banking with Severn.
Account holders have to pay hefty fees to Severn and can’t write checks or seek loans from the bank, because doing so might trigger scrutiny from federal regulators that could prove problematic. The businesses say they go to extraordinary lengths to prove that they aren’t violating any of Maryland’s strict medical pot regulations.