Banking is difficult – not impossible – for marijuana related businesses

I often hear comments that you can’t get a bank account or credit card processing for a marijuana related business (MRB). That is just not true. Peer CPAs on the west coast have reported success in building baking relationships for their clients and we are sure that this trend will expand eastward. What is true is that it is more difficult for MRBs to get banking and credit card processing than for other types of businesses. And it’s no surprise that the fees are higher.

This is what is needed to get banking relationship started for a MRB:

1. Business formation documents, including your bylaws or operating agreement
2. Your IRS-issued confirmation of EIN letter
3. Your marijuana license or certificate and a copy of the complete application you provided to become a licensee.
4. Your photo ID
5. A personal resume telling us about yourself and your past work experience
6. If in business: sales records going back up to 6 months
7. All state reporting and tax records (even if not yet in a MRB)
8. If in a retail business: point of sale system records
9. Investor information
10. Bank statement

You should expect a visit from a representative of the financial processor or bank for an in-person interview, a look at your business locations and a verification of inventory. The application process will likely have a better outcome if you are represented by an independent CPA. Of course, I am biased on this point. But bankers have always looked to CPAs for business introductions and for attestations and it has never been more needed than now in this industry.

The financial institution will likely want to have a representative review of rules and fees associated with your new account more thoroughly than other types of bank accounts you’ve had in the past.

Finally, keep alert to the fact that this is a brand new and still wild industry. Scams and half-truths aboud. There are plenty of people who will offer an opinion of their “better way” and plenty of opportunities to be harmed along the way. As always, be vigilant, verify, build relationships and maintain a degree of defensive business skepticism on all of these matters.


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