It’s no secret that the marijuana industry is being kept in the dark and is a legal market that still feels underground due to the cash-only nature of business. This is entirely due to the fear of banks around the country when it comes to the idea of working with a cannabusiness – whether they are operating under legal state law or not.
This problem however, has always seemed to be one that was strictly an issue for those working directly with the sale of cannabis. For example growers, retailers and wholesalers are extremely unlikely to find a bank willing to work with them, whereas a company who makes vaporizers will likely have no problem at all dealing with banks.
Unfortunately, it seems that this not always the case as NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws), one of the most established and well-known marijuana reform organizations, has had their accounts with TransFirst canceled.
TransFirst is the company that NORML was using to take credit and debit card donations through their website. A non-profit organization like NORML relies heavily, if not entirely, on donations and their website was likely the largest generator of donations.
The founder of NORML, Keith Stroup, wrote a blog post about it this past Monday. According to that post, the group was caught off guard when they received a letter in the mail stating that TransFirst had determined that they no longer qualify as a client after a review of their website.
When Stroup got ahold of the company and finally got to ask what rule was violated, they stated that they were a part of the marijuana industry.
The logical argument from Stroup was that they are not directly affiliated with anyone who is selling the plant – they merely use the web as another outlet to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Our advocacy is First Amendment-protected activity; marijuana legalization is our policy goal, and we work every day to nudge the country a little closer to that policy. – Keith Stroup, NORML Blog
The group is currently searching for a company who will be willing to work with them, regardless of their stance on legalization. After all, they are a non-profit and they need access to these donations to keep doing their work – but that cannot happen if companies are going to fear working with them simply based on what they stand for.
It’s a never ending battle when you decide to stand up for what you believe in – there will always be those who don’t see eye to eye. In the end I hope to see NORML able to continue accepting donations again soon, making this set-back for them as temporary as possible.