Alaska marijuana businesses are left with just two testing facilities statewide after Wells Fargo forces Steep Hill Alaska to close in Anchorage. Testing is mandatory in Alaska. The laboratory does plan to relocate.
CannTest and New Frontier Research are the only labs available for the state’s industry for the time being, according to Juneau Empire. Brandon Emmett from the Alaska Marijuana Control Board says that CannTest is capable of handling additional business. CannTest has confirmed that it has the capacity to handle the state’s demand.
Steep Hill Alaska said, “We are sorry to announce that Steep Hill Alaska will be suspending cannabis testing operations on March 31, 2018. We have to relocate because Wells Fargo called in the loan on our building. They will foreclose if we do not move out – just because we are a cannabis business!”
David Kennedy, spokesperson for Wells Fargo, said, “It is currently Wells Fargo’s policy not to knowingly bank marijuana businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is still illegal.”
Emmett said, “The businesses that use Steep Hill are going to be inconvenienced…obviously Steep Hill is going to be extremely inconvenienced, but as far as the industry as a whole is concerned, I don’t think it will be a major issue.”
New Frontier Research is accepting samples for testing, but has yet to hold its grand opening festivities yet.
CEO of Steep Hill, Brian Coyle said, “To me, Wells Fargo is really the bad guy here. They could give a s*** about Alaska. Only 700,000 people in Alaska; that’s less than the city of San Francisco. We need to hold their feet to the fire. If they’re going to be doing business in Alaska, they should be following Alaska’s state laws.”
Steep Hill has been aware of the conflict since last year when the landlord of the rented office space informed them that the bank was preparing to call in the loan on the business. The landlord, Brian Horner, worked to find another bank or credit union to take over the loan but was unsuccessful.
Horner even went to third parties and was successful in making an agreement with a non-financial institution investor but the switch of the title was refused by the title company because a marijuana business takes up the space. Horner had no other choice but to evict the testing facility.
Several lawmakers support a bill in the federal legislature that would allow banks to work with marijuana businesses. The supporters are urging the Senate banking committee to hold a hearing on the legislation.