This month, Wells Fargo closed the accounts of Florida agriculture commissioner candidate Nikki Fried due to her receiving money from medical cannabis lobbyists, according to a Forbes report by Tom Angell.
This is the first-ever closure of a politician’s campaign accounts due to contributions from the cannabis industry. Nikki Fried, even if elected, would have very limited oversight of medical cannabis issues.
The situation is raising some questions because many candidates across the political spectrum have accepted campaign contributions from the cannabis industry. Non-profits could also be at risk if this enforcement becomes standard policy for larger banks.
“This is yet another clear signal to Congress that they need to address the banking issue for the cannabis industry. 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.” — Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, via Forbes
The vast majority of banks, due to federal prohibition and money laundering laws, have refused to deal directly with the cannabis industry in states where it has been legalized. The move by Wells Fargo in Florida, however, is the first of any bank to target a political candidate.
Denial of banking services remains a serious issue for the burgeoning cannabis industry and this spread to broaden those restrictions may finally induce action from the federal government.
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