BEND, OR -- Central Oregon marijuana businesses are carefully watching national events that could impact their ability to use local financial institutions. Mike Testerman, Mid Oregon Credit Union’s Commercial Services Director, says two major decisions are expected in the next several months. "California is going to have it on the ballot, so if recreational marijuana becomes available there – they’re, of course, the largest economic impact in the US – that could have an impact. Plus, the DEA is looking to reclassify marijuana, this month; we’ll see if that has an impact."
Currently, marijuana is a "Schedule 1" drug, alongside heroin and LSD. Testerman tells KBND News that puts legal pot businesses in a unique position. "They are in a ‘catch 22.’ They have to deal with a lot of cash; there’s a lot of security risk there, it exposes them to additional expenses – how do you secure the cash? What do you do with it? They have to pay their taxes in cash, so what’s the government going to do with that cash? It just creates all sorts of issues." In Oregon, he says, "The Department of Revenue had to build a new vault in Salem, to be able to accommodate all the cash from paying the taxes." That new vault features upgraded air flow and air purification systems to deal with the odor that often accompanies cash from marijuana businesses.
He says if California voters legalize recreational pot, and the feds lower its classification, there's still no guarantee businesses would be allowed to open bank accounts. But, he's optimistic federally insured financial institutions will eventually be allowed to welcome in this new sector of business clientele.