SunTrust Banks reaches out to Medical Marijuana Business Association after dropping them

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Published: Mar. 26, 2019 at 8:37 AM EDT
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By: Capitol News Service

March 29, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) – After we reported that SunTrust Banks was closing the account of the Medical Marijuana Business Association, the banking giant reached out to association founder Jeff Sharkey, who says they are talking.

“As an association, you know, we receive funds from a number of different entities. Physicians groups, non-profits. We’re not selling marijuana. I think their real concern is with licensees who are actually dealing with the product, plants. So, we’ve had some preliminary conversations and I appreciate them reaching out,” said Sharkey.

Banks are reluctant to handle any accounts associated with marijuana because it is still illegal under federal law. While the two groups are talking, the association hasn’t stopped looking for another bank.

By: Capitol News Service

March 26, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) – SunTrust Banks is facing some criticism for closing the bank account of the Tallahassee-based Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida.

The association was informed by letter that the bank is looking out for not only its customers' best interests, but the bank's as well.

The letter made no mention of marijuana, but founder Jeff Sharkey says their name tells it all.

“We’re trying to find banks that want to get involved. Hopefully Congress will do something to eliminate the restrictions at the federal level. But, you know, we got 30 days to find a bank,” said Sharkey.

Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal law.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who saw her campaign account closed last year because of donations from marijuana lobbyists, calls SunTrust's actions a move in the wrong direction.

“As we move forward on cannabis with an expansion of access to medical marijuana and a state hemp program, SunTrust’s policy shift is a move in the wrong direction," said Fried. "A lack of financial services forces all cash operations, which is inefficient and a public safety risk. Businesses can’t operate with irregularities restricting their growth, stability and ability to pay bills." “Cannabis provides an important medicine and an incredible economic potential for Florida. We should be enacting forward-thinking policies to position our state to become a national leader in the industry.”