V.I. Banks Concerned About Processing Medical Marijuana Money

Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach during his time as a V.I. sentor. (File photo by Barry Leerdam, V.I. Legislature)
Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach during his time as a V.I. sentor. (File photo by Barry Leerdam, V.I. Legislature)

Bank officials told a meeting of the V.I. Banking Board this week that they are concerned about processing money from medical marijuana.

Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach, who by law chairs the V.I. Banking Board, convened his first meeting of the board Tuesday to hear from representatives of each of the territory’s banks about the state of their operations.

The issue arises due to the enactment this year of legislation legalizing medical marijuana.

Representatives from Banco Popular, Bank of St. Croix, Firstbank, Merchants Bank and Scotiabank each presented a “State of the Bank” summary report.

“The reports that were shared with the board all painted an optimistic outlook for the territory’s economy and reaffirmed each financial institution’s commitment to the Virgin Islands community,” Roach said in a statement.

Among other questions, Roach reportedly raised the issue of concerns regarding the need for faster loan approvals, specifically in the instances of mortgages.

One key question focused on the bank’s ability to accept deposits of proceeds from the sale of legal marijuana in anticipation of the new law that provides for the medicinal use of cannabis. Each financial institution responded to the question.

According to a statement from Roach’s office, the banks all expressed concerns due to federal statutes that presently exist to include restrictions by the FDIC, which does not allow deposits or proceeds from marijuana related businesses. As a result, some of the senior managers indicated that their organizations have been lobbying Congress for a type of dispensation that can allow for the proceeds to be banked in states which have legalized cannabis in some form.

“Overall, the banks were all excited about the state of the economy and the opportunities that can arise from increased capital coming into the territory. On behalf of the Banking Board, I would like to thank all bank representatives in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting for their time and detailed reports,” Roach said.

Other board members in attendance were Rosalie Javois, Richard Grant, and Finance Commissioner Nominee Kirk Callwood.