By Ryan Elmore
Despite legalization spreading across the country one state at a time (and in entire nations around the world) cannabis remains illegal under federal law. But while that merely makes most matters a bit murky for many in the industry, the one aspect of legal cannabis that it drastically affects is corporate banking laws.
Until federal legalization (or related legislation) passes, some banking institutions — including custodian banks that handle the funds and transactions for the stock market — are refusing to work with cannabis companies due to their illegality on a federal level. That means some of the largest brokerages and asset management firms aren’t looking to get involved in the industry just yet, and some view it as a hindrance to what could otherwise be an extremely profitable business venture in the near future.
Of course, with big money from major corporations and investors rolling into legal cannabis from all sides, it’s only a matter of time until the most established money managers want to get their hands in the game as well. A simple piece of state’s rights legislation could provide all of the necessary legal paperwork to open up the industry’s banking options, and eventually there will be enough institutional financing pouring in that it’ll have to happen in one way or another.
While this situation is certainly not optimal for some of the biggest financial movers and shakers, it means that some of the small and medium-sized operations can gain a serious advantage simply by being willing to take the risks that a major firm like BlackRock won’t. For those of us here at Gladbrook Holdings, it’s why we’ve positioned ourselves to be one of the early adopters of new policies and expect to experience exponential growth within the industry before it’s over.
It goes without saying that the big boys will all want a piece of the pie when it’s all said and done, but for now the unclear regulations surrounding aspects like banking leave a massive opportunity for the rest of us. As it is with any new industry, the old saying of “fortune favors the bold” may be paying off in a big way for the companies and investors that can find their way through the early years of the legal cannabis market.