In an announcement that will have deep implications for the newly-legal recreational cannabis industry in Washington State, Bank of America has agreed to be the state’s primary cannabis banker, meaning they’re willing to accept millions of dollars from recreational cannabis sales.
Currently Bank of America is Washington State’s official bank, which handles all of the state’s funds. However, the bank’s 7-year contract with the state runs out on June 30th. Washington asked for bids this month, specifically mentioning that accepting deposits of large amounts of cannabis-money will be a requirement.
According to the state’s Treasurer, Jim McIntire, the bank has told the state that they’re willing to continue banking with them, including handling deposits of funds earned from cannabis-sales. According to Wolfgang Opitz, assistant to McIntire, Bank of America has “checked this out with their compliance department and they don’t see it as any different than say, medical marijuana or any other activity,” he continues, “There could be other illegal activities going on in this state that happen to be in the tax base.”
McIntire is confident that the feds will stay out of it; “It’s actually one of the advantages of having Bank of America as your contractor. It’s unlikely, I think, that the federal government would raid them”, he continues, “And they’re big enough to look out for themselves on this.”