US (MI): Banking remains difficult for cannabis companies

It has been three years since Michigan voters decided in favor of legalizing adult-use cannabis, but when it comes to banking, the legal cannabis business still has a Wild West kind of a vibe at times, given the continued cash nature of much of the business.

Not all that long ago, bankers would not even think of touching the cannabis business. "I have heard some bankers say: 'If customers find out we're the cannabis bank, they're going to leave,' " said Paul Dunford, who co-founded Green Check Verified in New Haven, Connecticut, to help traditional financial institutions serve cannabis customers.

Dunford is now consulting with roughly a half dozen Michigan credit unions and community banks — as well as another 60 or so institutions elsewhere — as these institutions are aiming to figure out how to provide banking services to firms that legally grow and sell cannabis in Michigan and elsewhere. 

The real hurdles continue to be how difficult it is to get a traditional loan, as well as the heavy cash nature of many dispensaries. The SAFE Act would make it easier for cannabis-related businesses to get traditional loans and accept credit cards for purchases. Cannabis would still be a scheduled substance under federal law under the act, but the banks could serve the business. 

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