Bank of Denver to close all medical marijuana accounts: Cherry Top Farms bust a factor?

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One of the biggest issues for medical marijuana entrepreneurs is the shortage of banks willing to take their money. Most used Colorado Springs State Bank until September 30, when its MMJ accounts were dropped. And now, The Bank of Denver, where other businesses had found refuge, is doing likewise -- and a dispensary owner says the decision was prompted by the recent raid at Cherry Top Farms.

The owner, who asks that his name not be used, says The Bank of Denver was the sixth that's "kicked me out" -- the previous one being Colorado Springs State Bank. He understands that such facilities are anxious about working with MMJ operations, since marijuana remains against federal law, and banks are federally regulated. Nevertheless, "I've never made up any stories," he stresses. "I've told them exactly what I do, because my goal is to be 100 percent forthright about this legal business."

So why did The Bank of Denver decide it didn't want his moolah anymore? From what he's heard, the move was connected to "the bust that happened at Cherry Top Farms."

As we've reported, the Cherry Top Farms dispensary was raided last week by Drug Enforcement Agency officers, among other law-enforcers, with more than 2,500 plants and many other products taken. Why? The feds had been conducting surveillance operations on Nathan, Ha and Hai Do over an unlicensed, permit-free grow facility the feds had already taken down once before. Just as search warrants were about to be executed, a truck filled with plants left the grow, and agents followed it to Cherry Top Farms. And while CTP wasn't the target of the investigation, agents were required to seize all of the marijuana there in addition to what was in the truck.

"Cherry Top Farms was one of The Bank of Denver's biggest depositors," the anonymous owner says. "And their feeling was, if this is what can happen to one of their biggest depositors... well, they got very scared."

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Cherry Top Farms during last week's raid.
Which explains the phone call the owner received yesterday, informing him that The Bank of Denver had decided to close all its medical marijuana-related accounts.

Rumors that the accounts would be shut down as of October 31 don't jibe with what the owner was told during that conversation: He was informed he's got until January 3, 2012. But that's still a short amount of time to get his financial house in order somewhere else.

What to do? Some dispensaries are going cash only, but he doesn't see this approach as a viable option. "If we want to be 100 percent transparent, how can you be transparent in a completely cash business? I'm a little leery of that. I don't want to be in a situation where my credibility can be second-guessed."

With that in mind, he'll likely make an arrangement with "an online bank" as a stopgap. In the meantime, though, he's been in contact with Senator Pat Steadman, who'd tried to get language about investment funds into HB 1043, the so-called medical marijuana cleanup bill. (This passage was removed even before U.S. Attorney John Walsh raised objections to it.) "He has agreed to sponsor a bill to get a bank chartered specifically for the medical marijuana industry," he says.

In the short term, though, he describes The Bank of Denver's decision as, quite simply, "a disaster."

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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana ban opponent in Fort Collins says fight is still uphill despite fundraising lead."

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Civilian Rights Always
Civilian Rights Always

OCCUPY BANK OF DENVER EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SUPPORT MEDICAL FREEDOM!!!!DISCRIMINATION IS NEVER RIGHT!!!!!!!!EVEN AGAINST MEDICAL MARIJUANA PATIENTS AND PROVIDERS!!!!!

rsteeb
rsteeb

Boycott the bank.  Support safe access!

Occupy Bank of Denver
Occupy Bank of Denver

**********ATTENTION MMJ PATIENTS – CALL TO ACTION********* The Bank of Denver Is Closing MMJ Industry Accounts On 10-31-11 – Colorado Patients Need YOUR Help STEP 1: Call The Bank Of Denver At 303-572-3600 And Politely Ask Them Not To Close MMJ Accounts STEP 2: Boycott The Bank Of Denver STEP 3: OCCUPY BANK OF DENVER - 810 E. 17th Avenue, Denver, CO 80218 WE MUST STAND UP FOR OUR RIGHT TO NATURAL MEDICINE!!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Of what conceivable purpose is your first step if it is to be followed by either of the others?

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Yuck!
Yuck!

Are there any banks in CO working with the MMJ industry now? Doesn't this seem like another bad omen in a month of them? Springs bank, FSL closing, IRS, NoCal DA, landlords getting adding and abetting letters, Cherry Top and the Ho's, now this? Seems like a lot of people are trying to leave before things get ugly(er?). Anyway the state really needs to step in here and defend this industry if they want it to exist much past Q1 next year. That's the question, really. Are they just going to drag their feet and let nature take it's course?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Yes, they will let the Federal government (not actually a force of nature, but our elected officials) take its course.  Recall that Romer declared that 80% of dispensaries should close.  Unconstitutional SB10-109, HB10-1284, and HB11-1043 did not legitimize dispensaries; they served them up to the DEA on a silver platter.  The State has enjoyed the revenue, but has no more regard for the future than your dog does.

harpslinger
harpslinger

This should compel the legislature to action, next year.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

Why these MMCs aren't breathing down the State's neck to create a bank for them is beyond me.  Where are MMIG's lobbyists and the other groups?  

Going all cash is doable, but it will be a HUGE hassle to an already burdened industry.    

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