Wells Fargo has shut down the account of a Democrat running for agricultural commissioner in Florida over her support from organizations connected to the marijuana industry, according to reports. Nikki Fried, an outspoken proponent of medical marijuana, has been running for the Democratic nomination for state’s ag commissioner position since June.
It’s far from the first time a bank has closed an account due to connections to marijuana, since banks operate under federal guidelines and laws, including those criminalizing marijuana. However, according to The New York Times, Wells Fargo stands alone in having closed a campaign account for such reasons.
Wells Fargo said they had noticed Fried’s support for expanding access to medical marijuana, according to the Times. It’s unclear why they waited until August to take action, however. Before Fried started campaigning, she ran Igniting Florida, a pro-medical marijuana lobbying firm.
Also, her campaign website lists “medical marijuana” at the top of her priority list.
Wells Fargo’s representatives asked Fried if her campaign would receive donations from medical marijuana lobbyists “in any capacity,” The Times report said.
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Fried’s campaign replied that they would receive donations from such lobbyists as well as other private interests in the medical marijuana industry.
Then, last week, the bank served notice it was closing Fried’s campaign account.
“As a result of a recent review of your account relationship, we determined that we need to discontinue our business relationship,” a letter, given to Forbes by Fried, dated Aug. 3 from Wells Fargo to Fried’s campaign. They gave her 30 days.
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“It is Wells Fargo’s policy not to knowingly bank or provide services to marijuana businesses or for activities related to those businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is illegal even if state laws differ,” Bridget Braxton of Wells Fargo said in a statement, The Times reports. “We continually review our banking relationships to ensure we adhere to strict regulatory and risk guidelines.”
“This is absolutely unprecedented,” Fried told the Times. “Everybody in Florida knows that I’m one of the main proponents of the expansion of medical marijuana,” she said.
Despite the hurdles and risks, more banks are beginning to work with marijuana-related businesses, Forbes reported.
As for Fried’s campaign, they’ve found a new place to hold their funds: BB&T, according to The Times.
Article image: Wells Fargo Headquarters, San Fransisco/Google Street View screenshot