It looks like Oklahoma is going to have a healthy medical marijuana market based on the numbers flowing in from Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. Over 700 prospective business have applied for permitting in the state, which is poised to have a higher than average per capita patient count.
Cannabis businesses will now face the challenge of landing marijuana friendly bank accounts. This can be a difficult challenge, but there are some steps that businesses can take today that will boost their odds of getting a marijuana bank account.
First, understand that banks are under intense regulatory scrutiny when they take on these deposits. For that reason, they dig deep into accounts, businesses, and owners. That doesn't mean it can't be done, but being prepared will help you get over the due diligence hurdle with banking compliance officers when the time comes.
- Don't misrepresent the nature of your business to land an account. At minimum, you'll get found out, reported and have your account closed. FYI - Cannabis deposits smell like cannabis and your account profile is easy to spot with all the large cash deposits. At maximum, this could increase your legal risk as this is, by definition, money laundering.
- Have your governing documents in order. Cannabis businesses can have complex legal structures. Make sure your owners and operators are clearly defined in operating agreements. If you have entities with ownership interest, their governing documents will be subject to review as well. By 'governing documents,' we mean operating agreements, Articles of Incorporation, EINs, etc.
- Go ahead and create an online business profile and website to get your footprint out there. Financial institutions use this as a resource to learn who you are as a part of their "know your customer" checks for businesses.
- Credit and criminal history are a factor. Although some states allow prior convictions, federal guidance to banks tells them to watch out for owners with connection to drug-related offenses and this could prevent your business from getting banked. Choose your partners wisely.
- You don't need or want "marijuana," "cannabis," "420," or any other marijuana related word in your company name. Always refer to rule #1, which is "do not misrepresent your business." However, do yourself, your bank, employees, vendors and the industry a favor - help it gain legitimacy by leaving these words out.