This Las Vegas bank eager to do business with would-be marijuana dispensary

If finance executives are worried about getting involved with medical marijuana clients, don’t tell Las Vegas banker John Sullivan.

First Security Bank of Nevada, led by CEO Sullivan, has signed on to manage cash and other banking transactions for would-be dispensary operator GrowBLOX Sciences.

GrowBLOX, which said it “operates with the utmost compliance integrity,” said its arrangement with First Security would eliminate the “cash only” status of medical marijuana shops that has left them vulnerable to devastating theft.

The company announced Tuesday that it obtained a letter of intent from the bank.

“It allows us to fill an integral link that is missing in this industry,” GrowBLOX Chief Financial Officer Steven Weldon said in the news release.

Clark County commissioners on Friday gave a group that includes GrowBLOX a special use permit for its proposed dispensary, which will apparently be located on Fort Apache Road just north of Tropicana Avenue.

The group, GB Sciences Nevada, which still needs state approval before opening, was one of 18 applicants to receive a county dispensary permit that day, for locations around Southern Nevada.

Although 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana use — almost solely for medical purposes — bankers have shied from lending to marijuana-related companies or accepting their deposits. That’s because using marijuana still violates federal law, although the Department of Justice has backed off, easing fears that armed federal agents might storm into dispensaries and grow-houses to shut them down.

Last August, the agency said that it told the governors of Colorado and Washington — the only states that have legalized recreational marijuana use — that the federal government was “deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time.”

Sullivan recently told KNPR that he proposed to his board of directors that First Security sign medical marijuana operators as clients.

As he sees it, the industry is safe and valuable.

“Our willingness to work with the applicants who intend to get into the marijuana-related businesses arises from our attitude that we should serve all of the customers in our market,” Sullivan told the radio station.