Illinois Bank Shutting Out Cannabis Clients Over Sessions’ Stance

Illinois Bank Shutting Out Cannabis Clients Over Sessions’ Stance

By Larry Mishkin, Hoban Law Group

The Bank of Springfield (Illinois) has notified its existing cannabis-related clients that their money is no good there anymore.

Citing what it terms a “legal gray zone” cast by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the bank announced in an April 2 letter to customers that all accounts of its existing cannabis-related clients will be closed effective May 21, and no new accounts accepted. The bank based its decision on Sessions’ January decision to rescind the 2013 Cole Memorandum issued by then President Obama’s Justice Department. The directive had served as an assurance to states with medical cannabis programs that the prosecution of any state-licensed participants was not a federal priority, and it discouraged U.S. attorneys from pursuing such actions.

For affected businesses, the move represents a major setback and pressing concern given the lack of available banking options in Illinois. Medical cannabis retail sales there rang up a reported $8.5 million statewide in February, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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