Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Shops Suffering from Lack of Financial Services

Count Oklahoma as one of the states that isn’t making it easy on marijuana businesses since the inception and implementation of medical marijuana. Campaigns to legalize medical cannabis got serious starting in 2014 and—after the legislature tried to rewrite the language of the referendum initiative—was put on the ballot for the primary election on June 26, 2018. State Question 788 passed by a vote of 57 percent to 43 percent. Ah, but that’s not the end of the story. The legislature then tried to ban marijuana leaf or smokable cannabis products. They also tried to require a licensed pharmacist be on-site at all times.

All that being said, medical marijuana businesses in Oklahoma have now reached the point where they’re simply dealing with the normal amount of hassle that comes with their quasi-legal status. And like these business in other states, one of the biggest hassles they’re running into is a lack of basic financial services enjoyed by most other small businesses.

Available Financial Services in Oklahoma

First Fidelity Bank is one of the only options in the state that provides financial services to businesses that deal with large amounts of cash, most commonly vending machine operators including ATMs. With this type of cash-heavy business account, that can also be a money-laundering front, every single transaction must be tracked and cross-referenced. This means more administrative costs for the banks, which are then passed on to medical marijuana shops. Shop owners are then left with the choice to pass these costs on to their patient consumers or else operate a cash-only business. On the other hand, even if they’re following all the applicable state laws and financial service rules with their bank, there’s still no guarantee that the feds won’t seize the business’s assets under federal drug laws.

Regulatory Catch-22

In another obstacle that makes people wonder if the state is approaching the issue with incompetence or sabotage, the state passed a law requiring that medical marijuana providers regularly submit their products for proof of testing. Except the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority hasn’t licensed any labs to test the cannabis and at first didn’t even issue interim rules other than to say that medical businesses should have their products ready for most standardized cannabis testing.

Other Small Business and Accounting Services

Of course, these businesses must also keep up with the typical requirements for small business management and tax accounting services. Just because the business is technically illegal by federal law doesn’t mean these businesses don’t have to file employment, income, and other relevant business taxes. If anything, these businesses can be assured their filings will be given extra scrutiny.

Oklahoma is typically known for its small business financial support services—for local companies as well as out-of-state firms. Based just outside of Oklahoma City, Advanced Micro Solutions is known for its small business accounting products and platform for W-2 and 1099 software.

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