Wells Fargo closes candidate’s account over medical marijuana platform

Wells Fargo closes candidate’s account over medical marijuana platform
A Florida candidate for state office had her campaign bank account closed by Wells Fargo after it discovered she supports medical marijuana.

A Florida candidate for state office had her campaign bank account closed by Wells Fargo after it discovered she supports medical marijuana.

Nikki Fried, a Democrat running for agriculture commissioner, has touted further expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program as her highest priority. She also ran a lobbying firm, and has described herself as “one of most visible faces and key activists in Florida’s burgeoning medical cannabis industry.”

But Wells Fargo began to notice Fried was “advocating for expanded patient access to medical marijuana,” according to The New York Times, and asked the campaign whether it was receiving money from lobbyists in the industry.

The campaign said yes, telling the bank Fried would also receive donations from “executives, employees and corporations in the medical marijuana industry.”

The Times reported that the campaign said it received written notice last week that Wells Fargo would be closing its account.

Fried has since urged her supporters to consider pulling their money from the bank, and opened a new campaign account at BB&T.

“This is absolutely unprecedented,” she told the Times in a telephone interview. “I’ve been in this campaign since the beginning of June. Everybody in Florida knows that I’m one of the main proponents of the expansion of medical marijuana.”

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman declined to discuss Fried’s case with the Times, but said the bank has a policy of avoiding the marijuana industry.

“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,” the spokeswoman, Bridget Braxton, said in a statement. “We continually review our banking relationships to ensure we adhere to strict regulatory and risk guidelines.”

The Times reports that Wells Fargo may be alone in having a policy like theirs in place, as Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase said their banks do not.