Some marijuana businesses getting around banking crisis

by: Graham Johnson Updated:


SEATTLE, Wash. - There is a banking crisis for marijuana businesses, but a few savvy owners are finding ways around it.

John Davis of Northwest Patient Resource Center, a medical marijuana access point, calls his approach "stealth banking."

"You have to fly under the radar and you have to be good at it," Davis said.

Davis created a separate holding company with a name that has nothing to do with marijuana.

He said he works with a "don't ask, don't tell bank branch" and always keeps a backup account in case his gets shut down.

"Don't ask, don't tell bank branches know what's going on.  But they don't feel the need to talk to corporate about it," Davis said.

Davis has a staff member who doesn't do TV interviews make the deposits.

That person is always well-dressed and makes sure the cash does not smell like marijuana.

"I would never take in a deposit because I could get recognized," Davis said.

Most marijuana businesses are all-cash without bank accounts, which makes them targets for crime.

Banks are federally-regulated, and because marijuana is illegal under federal law, they're reluctant to work with the marijuana industry.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has indicated new federal guidance about marijuana banking is coming to help solve the problem.

In the meantime, Davis is educating other marijuana businesses about the sometimes absurd practices they must follow to obtain and keep bank accounts.