It's no secret that US banks will not deal with the cannabis industry’s money, even though they probably wish they could.
Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest bank in the U.S., went out on a limb to show just how anti-cannabis it could be. The bank unceremoniously dumped Florida agriculture commissioner candidate, Nikki Fried, as a client because her campaign has received donations from lobbyists in the medical marijuana industry, reported Forbes.
"Periodically, we review our account relationships as part of our responsibility to oversee and manage banking risks," an August 3 letter from Wells Fargo said. "As a result of a recent review of your account relationship, we determined that we need to discontinue our business relationship and close the account above within 30 days from the date of this letter."
The move could affect bank accounts of campaign committees and nonprofit groups advocating for marijuana policy change, speculated Forbes’ columnist Tom Angell.
"This is yet another clear signal to Congress that they need to address the banking issue for the cannabis industry," Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said in a statement.
"It is absurd enough that state-regulated businesses are being denied standard banking services, but it is absolutely ludicrous that political candidates and nonprofit advocacy organizations are also being affected. There is no rational reason for Congress to go another session without fixing this growing problem, which has serious societal implications."
Ms. Fried, a Democrat, held a press conference in Florida, reported NBC Miami to "address this arbitrary, unprecedented action against the fundamental rights to speech of a candidate for public office, and call attention to the out of touch institutions, laws and politicians that allowed this transgression to occur in the first place."
Because of ongoing federal marijuana prohibition, many banks refuse to deal with cannabis companies or related businesses, but Wells Fargo is the first to deny banking services to a candidate running for public office as a result of donations from the cannabis industry.