If you ask an attorney if its worth it to test grey areas of the law for profit, they will likely respond something like, why would you want to do that? Banks are now dropping like flies in the Massachusetts cannabis industry after U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling made very aggressive comments following Jeff Sessions rescinding the Cole Memo.
Nearly every Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensary has resorted back to an exclusively cash business after Lelling’s comments about the illegal use of the federal banking system. Massachusetts is trying to get setup for recreational sales starting in July, and losing merchant services was the last thing dispensary owners needed.
Lelling said his office would “aggressively investigate and prosecute bulk cultivation and trafficking cases, and those who use the federal banking system illegally.” Unlike the U.S. attorney in Colorado, Lelling did not offer protection for people who participate in the “state-level marijuana trade.”
Medical-marijuana businesses throughout Massachusetts are already feeling shock waves caused by Lelling’s words.
Most of the state’s 17 operating dispensaries told customers they could no longer accept checks or cards as financial institutions started to pull out following threats of prosecution.
Ermont Inc. in Quincy said it was forced to become a cash-only business when an attorney for its debit card processor, Merchant Services Consulting Group, said it would no longer do business with them.
“Ermont Inc. was instructed (Monday) night by its debit card processor to immediately suspend the use of debit cards at the dispensary,” CEO Jack Hudson said in a statement. “We have complied and all transactions are cash-only until further notice. This is an unfortunate situation beyond Ermont’s control, and we sincerely apologize to our patients for the inconvenience.”
Massuachusetts is planning on offering cannabis lounges for the public consumption of marijuana. Will the aggressive stance of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling make Massachusetts officials hesitate on allowing the lounges?
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