Alaska’s Steep Hill Closure Shows the Need for Cannabis Banking Law Reform

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Earlier this month Steep Hill of Anchorage, one of the three cannabis testing labs in the state, announced that they would be closing their doors, according to Juneau Empire. The reason: Wells Fargo threatened to foreclose on the building if they weren’t evicted. This left building owner Brian Horner with little recourse, other than to evict Steep Hill.

The lab said on Instagram on Thursday:

We are sorry to announce that Steep Hill Alaska will be suspending cannabis testing operations on March 31, 2018. We have to relocate because Wells Fargo called in the loan on our building. They will foreclose if we do not move out — just because we are a cannabis business!

This now leaves the entire state of Alaska with only two cannabis testing labs in operation.  Brian Emmett, a member of Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board said that the two remaining labs should have no issues keeping up with demand, however.

Regarding Wells Fargo’s decision, David Kennedy, a spokesperson for the bank, said in a statement via email, “It is currently Wells Fargo’s policy not to knowingly bank marijuana businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is still illegal.”

This is a Bad Move on Wells Fargo’s Part

Steep Hill CEO Brian Coyle had a different take on the issue. He said via telephone Friday, “To me, Wells Fargo is the real bad guy here. They could give a s—- about Alaska. Only 700,000 people in Alaska; that’s less than the city of San Francisco.” He went on to say that Alaska state law requires all cannabis to be tested before it is distributed. “We need to hold their feet to the fire. If they’re going to be doing business in Alaska, they should be following Alaska’s state laws, “ he said.

We Need Cannabis Banking Reform!

What has happened to Steep Hill further shows the need for cannabis banking reform. Unfortunately, we will not most likely not see anything of the sort until cannabis prohibition is repealed throughout the US. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) pled with Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) chairman of the Senate Banking committee for cannabis banking reform in the form of the SAFE Act. Whether or not he will hold a hearing regarding such the bill remains to be seen.

Fortunately, there is some recourse for dispensary customers in the GreenMed app, which allows them to use their debit cards to pay for their cannabis purchases. GreenMed also has a brand new interactive dispensary map, which connects customers with dispensaries in their area. You can check it out here!

Source: Juneau Empire

Image Source: Steep Hill of Alaska

Will the Steep Hill closure lead to cannabis banking reform? Tell us in the comments!


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