As of May 29, 2,300 farmers in Colorado were registered to grow hemp and 80,000 acres outdoors and 9 million square feet of indoor space — greenhouses — were licensed for hemp production, according to the latest figures.
It’s not just individual companies running into problems with credit-card companies and other financial institutions. The U.S. Hemp Authority, which has developed standards and a certification process for the industry, was notified in early June that Stripe, which processes payments for internet businesses, is dropping it as a client.
“We had been working with them since January or February of this year,” said Marielle Weintraub, president of the authority. “They said they would no longer be working with us because we’re a cannabis-related business, putting us in a high-risk category.”
But the Hemp Authority only processes fees for licensing hemp business that are certified by a third-party auditor, Weintraub said. “We don’t sell a product, manufacture a product. We’re not shipping a product.”
A June 7 email from Stripe to the Hemp Authority said “it does seem that your business is in violation of the Stripe Services Agreement, section A.7.b (Restricted Businesses and Activities).”
Stripe didn’t answer requests for comment.
Weintraub said other services charge considerably more. She added that she’s more worried about hemp business owners or farmers who might run into trouble with their banks.
“It may or may not put the rest of their banking in jeopardy,” Weintraub said.
Jesse Stanley, who along with his brothers started Colorado-based Charlotte’s Web, a leader in the CBD industry, said at the Outdoor Retailer that in the beginning, banks would do business with the company for a while and then back out.
“It was kind of like relief pitchers: We’d bring in the next one until we’d exhausted them,” Stanley said.
Colorado is sponsoring a bill to open banking and financial services to marijuana businesses in states that have legalized marijuana. The bipartisan bill got its first-ever hearing by a U.S. House committee earlier this year.