By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

When Florida’s medical marijuana industry was first starting to grow, business owners faced a big dilemma: Where could they find a bank to take their millions of dollars? The federal government still considers marijuana an illegal substance without medicinal value, so most banks haven’t been willing to take the industry’s money. Because of federal regulations, the businesses also cannot accept credit cards for payment, as well, making it difficult for patient to obtain medical marijuana by mail.

Despite this, First Green Bank, a Central Florida community bank that doesn’t require a federal charter, came to the rescue. By the summer of 2017, it was handling accounts for six of the state’s seven licensed producers of medical marijuana.

But now, First Green announced that it is closing the accounts of its cannabis clients and won’t be handling their money after January, 2018, due to the federal government’s stance.

Green Light Ends for Marijuana Money.

First Green claims to have found a new institution willing to take its place. It says it is confident that Florida’s 40,000 card-carrying medical marijuana patients won’t notice any hiccups. “There will be no interruption or change in operations as far as patients and members are concerned,” Jake Bergmann, CEO of Surterra Holdings, a medicinal marijuana operator and a First Green client, is reported to have stated.

In Florida, only 13 companies are licensed to grow marijuana and only seven can actually sell it. Therefore, the importance of having a financial partner becomes even more pronounced given the amount of money each company is working with.

Read First Green Bank’s press release on why it made this decision to learn more.

Florida is not the only state having difficulty finding banks for the marijuana industry. In Colorado, marijuana distributors also struggle to operate without access to traditional banking systems. You can learn more about this issue by reading my prior blog on Cannabis Credit Unions.

For updates on marijuana laws and regulations, be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at


Smiley, David. “The banker to Florida’s medical marijuana players is getting out of the business.” The Miami Herald. (December 22, 2017). Web.

“Florida’s pot banker is closing accounts.” The Denver Post. (December 28, 2017). Print.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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