Illinois Bank Throws Out Medical Marijuana Patient with MS

Photo by Vortex Farmacy

An Illinois bank is in the spotlight after tossing out a customer—just because he’s a medical marijuana patient.

According to a report from CBS affiliate KMOV in St, Louis, Darren Steven Miller was refused service at the Bank of Edwardsville in Granite City, Illinois, just across the Mississippi from St. Louis. The reason: He uses medicinal cannabis to treat his stage three multiple sclerosis and terminal lung cancer.

“When I walked in the bank, [the manager] pulled me aside and said because of my cannabis use that I could not have a signature card with their bank,” Miller told the station.

Since Illinois passed the “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act” in 2013, there have been around 12,000 patients certified to use marijuana for medical purposes. And while federal law does create some murky waters when it comes to the cannabis industry doing business with financial institutions, there are no restrictions that could possibly make it risky for a bank to work with a medical marijuana patient.

“Are they going to check every other person at the bank to see if they’re a legal cannabis patient and stop doing business with them also?” Miller asked, trying to make sense out of the situation.

When the Bank of Edwardsville was asked to explain their actions, a spokesman by the name of Bill Yarbrough said its decision to disassociate with Miller was done because he wrote “Marijuana Activist” as his occupation when he applied for an account.

As a “federally-regulated institution, and because of the disconnect between federal and state law and regulatory requirements, the bank will not engage in banking relationships with the medical marijuana industry at this time,” Yarbrough said in a statement.

But Miller was not opening a checking account for anything connected to the cannabis trade, but for a local Masonic Lodge.

So far, the bank has declined to clarify its position on this issue.

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