Bank of America has notified the Scottsdale Research Institute that it will close its bank account next month, even though the firm’s cannabis research has been sanctioned by the federal government.
In an Oct. 12 letter to the Scottsdale Research Institute that was posted on social media, Bank of America
said it would restrict banking services in 21 days and permanently close it by Nov. 12 and that the “decision is final” and won’t be reconsidered.
“Bank of America closes down account of Federally-licensed cannabis researcher,” Dr. Sue Sisley said on her Twitter page on Friday. “SRI conducts FDA approved controlled trials evaluating cannabis as medicine for treating pain/PTSD in military veterans & terminally ill patients this TRAGICALLY shuts down our research.”
At last check, the tweet drew 55 comments, mostly criticizing Bank of America. Some people said they would cancel their credit cards with the bank.
A spokesperson for the bank that MarketWatch contacted did not comment.
Sisley, a psychiatrist and president of Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI), included in her tweet a photo of her Controlled Substance Registration Certificate from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The SRI won the designation this year after a legal battle with the U.S. government for the right to produce cannabis for medical testing.
Scottsdale Research Institute is currently reviewing bids from other financial institutions, according to an article by cannabis publication Marijuana Moment.
“We just wanted to expose wrongdoing of these big banks,” Sisley told the publication. The Scottsdale Research Institute wants to publicize that even federally legal operations are being targeted by these large banks who refuse to look at its federal regulatory documents, she said.
Sisley speculated that publicity around Scottsdale Research Institute’s addition of psychoactive mushrooms, or psilocybin, to its research may have prompted the bank’s action but the bank provided “zero justification.”
The firm has been upfront with Bank of America for 10 years about its use of cannabis. It originally used cannabis from the University of Mississippi for its studies but then won the right to cultivate its own marijuana.
“We have a contract with DEA. We are growing cannabis for [Food and Drug Administration] clinical trials and selling it to the DEA,” she said in the article by Marijuana Moment. “It’s unconscionable the way they are behaving—and further proof that the word ‘cannabis’ continues to be completely radioactive even though this is a 100% federally legal operation.”
Sisley was fired from University of Arizona in 2014 after she received approval from federal drug officials to study the effects of pot on patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Meanwhile, cannabis remains on the federal government’s list of controlled substances, which prevents cannabis-related businesses from using the banking system in many cases. Some banks have been serving cannabis companies under banking guidelines published during the Obama administration, but the U.S.’s largest institutions continue to avoid any businesses or organizations that touch the plant.
Meanwhile, the SAFE banking act to potentially open up the banking system to cannabis remains in limbo in the U.S. Senate after recently winning passage in the U.S. House of Representatives. Cannabis pundits do not expect any major moves out of Congress in the near future.