The impact of FinCEN BSA regulation and the inability to accept credit cards are two of the biggest obstacles to the proper functioning of new cannabis businesses. For those who chose to enter the industry there are many dragons business owners need to slay… the dragons of managing and tracking loose money in a cash only business, the dragons of daunting BSA regulations, FinCEN’s unclear language, and, of course, in depth tracking and reporting compliance regulations. Savvy cannabis merchants need help to navigate the grey areas that still exist even though the law now says you can sell marijuana – if you obey the rules.
State laws and federal laws are at odds. This has created major barriers to the wider adoption of new laws that will make it easier to sell cannabis products to thousands of eager consumers. Guardian Data Systems can help canna-businesses find a way through the muddle.
The requirements of BSA SARs (Suspicious Activities Reporting) requirements, for example, have created a level of official scrutiny that a majority of other businesses do not face. Until Federal regulation catches up with your state’s laws banks will continue to be reluctant to provide financial services and credit card processing for absolutely legal operations (like yours) because of the extra Federal scrutiny they face, the increased staffing required, and unclear liability. For MMJ business owners this has become a constant headache in most every state where it is legal. Imagine how much cash will continue to sit in office safes, safety deposit boxes, or buried in back yards if other legitimate merchants are not allowed to accept credit cards or, at the very least, open bank accounts.
What if supermarkets had to track everything they sell —from farm to table — with one eye always on the Feds? (They do have to closely track some of it but the scrutiny they face is fairly routine stuff compared to what cannabis sellers encounter.)
Guardian Data Systems is lobbying for solutions that work for cannabis merchants in states where growing, processing and selling marijuana has won voter approval. Accepting credit cards will be a major step forward. Right now Federal guidelines are murky on why accepting credit cards is prohibited but the major card brands will not stand behind the industry until they are guaranteed to be protected from prosecution.
Having trouble with what should be the simple task of opening a bank account? GDS’s team of legal, compliance, and policy experts is leading the fight for financial reform in at the federal, state and local levels. This has helped Guardian Data Systems become a trusted leader in locating and underwriting cannabis business bank accounts and providing compliance programs with a high level of transparency that cannabis businesses need in order to succeed.
It is said that if there is sufficient demand for anything, someone will try to find a way around the system that prevents them from getting it. ATMs and point of banking solutions are no longer viable. They have become heavily regulated by the card brands supporting them and are barred from being placed in dispensaries and shops that sell marijuana. This means cash is still king.
How can avoid losing affluent clients who are reluctant to buy from you if you can’t accept credit or debit cards? At this point, the option of accepting credit cards is off the table and anyone who says otherwise is sorely mis-informed. This may change soon and Guardian Data Systems is the leader in pushing for change. We have established exclusive access to legitimate but enlightened banking services in just about every part of the country where citizen and consumer demand has grown and soon cannabis retailers will be able to accept plastic as easily as liquor stores.
As matters now stand, if owners of recreational marijuana stores or medical dispensaries decide to lie to regulators and financial institutions about the nature of their businesses, often encouraged by vendors who insist they can offer credit card processing legally, they risk prosecution for money laundering,trafficking, or bank fraud.
Guardian Data Systems can help you avoid these snares. We have an experienced team of consultants who have dealt with these kinds of issues for over a decade. These experts can help cannabis business establish financial services legitimately and most importantly transparently, a service many other more “traditional” businesses take for granted.
The good news is that the regulatory environment in many parts of the country may be getting better for legal sellers of weed. Momentum has been building and indicates that the way the Feds deal with marijuana businesses is gradually changing.
The major Credit Card Brands have been extremely reluctant to provide access to their services for cannabis businesses in states where it is legal. This is partly due to the fact that processing a transaction requires that funds technically cross state lines, possibly into states with different laws than those where the purchase is made. Even though in August 2013, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would not oppose state laws that authorize medical and recreational marijuana or prosecute citizens of that state, if they met the requirements of eight new federal enforcement policies like the one that forbids the distribution of marijuana to minors. This statement alone is not enough comfort for many financial institutions nor the Card Brands. Guardian Data Systems is ready to help you play by the new rules.
We specialize in servicing cannabis businesses and have a solid track record of getting financial services approved and ensuring they are in full compliance with state and federal guidelines. Guardian Data Systems has been working to build an extensive network of banks and investors eager to work with any legal industry.
The war on cannabis is not yet officially over but key battles are being won. As more states legalize marijuana sales, the federal law will eventually change. Canna-business growth in the U.S. has become an irresistible force and the federal government is no longer an immovable object,