Bank of America Terminates Popular Cannabis Account without Cause

One of the largest banks in the States is closing down the account of a research institute that’s federally commissioned to grow and study Schedule I substances like cannabis and psilocybin (magic) mushrooms.

Bank of America, usually stylized as BoA, randomly informed the Scottsdale Research Institute or the SRI to terminate its accounts this week. Moreover, Bank of America failed to provide SRI with an explicit explanation for the termination. A note from the bank shared with cannabis new outlets stated the judgment was made after ‘careful investigation of your banking relationship’ and that the decision is ‘final and cannot be reversed.

The Scottsdale Research Institute has spent many years lobbying for expanded access to research-level controlled substances to investigate their healing potential, in part by battling against the Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA on problems like cannabis scheduling.

Earlier this Summer, it obtained introductory permission from the DEA to be one of the first new federally-sanctioned cannabis cultivators for research, effectively ending a monopoly that has been in place for decades.

Subsequently, the SRI is receiving proposals from different financial institutions that want to establish an account. Chief Investigator Sue Sisley shared the termination of the account by BoA on Twitter:

It takes substantial resources to achieve and sustain DEA authorization to develop and study Schedule I substances like cannabis. One hypothesis that Sisley bobbed was that the Bank of America may have chosen to end the relationship after SRI was cleared to cultivate psilocybin (i.e., magic mushrooms) for analysis. Nevertheless, the bank presented no reasoning for the termination whatsoever.

The Scottsdale Research Institute has targeted multiple legal difficulties imploring the federal government to eliminate study barriers for Schedule I drugs like cannabis and psychedelics.

Last month, a federal appeals court dismissed SRI’s request to require the DEA to reevaluate cannabis’ scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act (or the CSA.) However, one judge stated in a concurring opinion that the DEA might soon be overpowered to reconsider a policy change nevertheless due to a misinterpretation of the medicinal value of cannabis.

Earlier this Summer, the lawsuit sustained arguments centered essentially on DEA’s 2020 rejection of a one-page cannabis rescheduling appeal filed by a separate entity. In its reply, the agency argued that cannabis has no accepted medicinal value at this time.

The petitioners initially filed their claim, Sisley v. DEA, against the federal agency in May of 2020. The petition disputes that DEA’s reason for keeping a Schedule I status for cannabis infringes on the Constitution on various grounds. DEA attempted to drop the case, but the Ninth Circuit refused that request last month.

The DEA is taking extra steps to support research into the possible dangers and benefits of cannabis and specific psychedelics. Last month, it suggested a climactic increase in legalizing substances like cannabis, psilocybin, DMT, MDMA, and LSD in research.

Previously, the DEA had boosted its proposed 2021 allowance for cannabis and psilocybin. Still, the SRI is calling for larger quantities of research-level cannabis and a wider range of psychedelics to be cultivated in 2022.

Despite this, the improvements, and the dynamic policy landscape surrounding cannabis and psychedelics at the state and municipal level, many financial institutions remain unwilling to sustain clients that work with federally prohibited products like cannabis and magic mushrooms.

According to federal data released earlier this Summer, the number of banks and credit unions that work with cannabis businesses has increased from Q3 2021.

Legislators have been working to establish explicit legal protections for banks and credit unions that operate with the cannabis industry to mitigate remaining concerns in the financial services industry about working with weed businesses. That would be achieved through House-passed standalone legislation or an amendment to a defense spending bill last month.

Chief Investigator Sisley said SRI could file a legal complaint against the Bank of America over the account termination.

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