New bank wants to offer services to Florida medical marijuana treatment centers

By  | 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Medical Marijuana is a cash cow.

One Florida license recently sold for $55 million dollars.

However, many in the business haven’t had a place to bank since First Green Bank, the only bank willing to handle their money, dropped all of its clients last December.

“This is a real public safety issue with all this cash, not just in Florida, all over the country, swirling around. People can't pay their taxes, they're paying everything, payroll in cash,” said Jeff Sharkey with the Medical Marijuana Business Association.

Because medical marijuana remains illegal under Federal law, most banks won’t do business with dispensaries.

In the absence of First Green Bank, Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers have turned to alternative ways of doing business.

The most common is a closed loop system where patients use cash to load cards that are then used to purchase products.

“Without any options, MMTC's are trying their best to make it a safe and secure transaction point of sale,” said Sharkey.

MMTCs are supposed to report all transactions with the federal government, but without backing from a bank, it’s nearly impossible to do so.

Now a new company has its eyes on Florida’s budding industry.

Seattle-based GRN Funds is looking to fill the vacancy the First Green Bank left open.

“We're providing traditional banking services. It's a little bit different than what's going on currently with the closed-loop systems,” GRN Funds CEO Justin Costello said.

GRN Funds operates in five states and serves more than 300 accounts.

Costello says it would operate much like First Green Bank did, helping legitimize the industry.

“We're trying to get the professional services around the industry to help the industry to assimilate into regular business,” said Costello.

GRN Funds says it plans to begin offering its services to Florida MMTCs in the near future.