A Florida bank is making its first few tentative steps into the marijuana industry. But there’s still a long way to go before pot is treated like other businesses.
Regions Bank in Tampa is extending a line of credit to a company called Efftech. It owns a south Florida hydroponics business called The Future Farms. Kim Rivers, CEO of Tallahassee’s medical marijuana dispensary Trulieve, says that’s a good sign, but banking is still difficult for cannabis businesses.
“I think that what we’re waiting for is for banks to have a positive response to companies that, as I said, are directly involved with the plant and with product,” Rivers says.
Regulated industries lawyer Richard Blau agrees it’s a small but promising step.
“It gets everybody involved more comfortable, one step closer to being comfortable, with the notion that banks and financial institutions can responsibly provide banking and financial services to members of this new but growing industry,” he says.
Blau believes more banks will get on board if the Drug Enforcement Administration changes the way cannabis is regulated by rescheduling the drug. The DEA has been considering the move, but has yet to decide how it will proceed.
UPDATE: In a decision Wednesday night, the DEA rejected reclassification. This leaves marijuana as a Schedule I drug: those that are highly addictive, with no accepted medical use.