Marijuana causes banking problems


DEAR SUN SPOTS: I had an odd thing happen last week when I went to Northeast Bank in South Paris, which I’ve been dealing with for years, to open a new account.

The paper process went smoothly and pleasantly. Then the teller said that she had to ask one more question before she’d open the account. The question was “Are you the caregiver of a medical marijuana user?”

Though I am not, I sure was taken aback by the question. I asked why they needed to know and she simply stated “bank policy.” Does Sun Spots know what bank policy that might be? And furthermore it feels a teeny bit prejudiced. — Baffled via email

ANSWER: Northeast Bank officials responded quickly, but their answer didn’t really provide much information as to your specific question.

Jacquie Boas, senior manager for corporate communications based in Boston, wrote the following:

“Northeast Bank follows the guidance given on this issue by various resources on this complicated issue. It may be helpful for you to take a look at the attached from the American Bankers Association, Maine Bankers Association and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, as there are some frequently asked questions included that may be useful.”

The attachments focused on the fact that while medical marijuana has been legalized in many states (including Maine) and recreational cannabis in two, it is still illegal under federal law. The information provided to financial institutions encourages them to take all due care to keep from violating those laws.

Readers may have seen some of the stories on the news about marijuana providers being unable to open not only business accounts but personal accounts as well. Some have been forced to operate as cash-only businesses, which adds to the already substantial risk of theft and other crimes in this new business.

Perhaps Northeast Bank is just being super careful to avoid breaking federal law, but its impossible to know the real reason without being in the room when the bank officers discuss the issue privately.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I want to tell you how much I enjoy your column. It helps me start my day!

Would you please list the days and times of Alanon meetings in the Lewiston-Auburn region? Thank you. — L.R., Rumford

ANSWER: Printing all the meetings would eat up too much of the column, but fortunately those meetings are already in the Sun Journal. Check the Community Announcement section, which is the first category in the classified ads.

For those with a computer, all the meetings are online at See Find a Meeting at the top left.

To find a meeting by phone, call 207-284-1844 or 800-498-1844.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: In response to the Sept. 2 request for a whoopee pie recipe, here is mine.

To make the filling, cook in microwave 1/3 cup flour, 1 cup milk and a little salt for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring in between minutes. It will be very thick. When it is still warm, add 1 cup sugar. When cold, add ¾ cup Crisco and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat well. (If you wish, add a little powdered sugar or peanut butter.)

For the cake, mix 2 eggs, 2/3 cup olive oil, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups milk, 4 cups flour, 1 cup cocoa, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons soda and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat well.

Divide mix into six 8-inch greased and floured pans. Bake for 20 minutes at 350-degree oven. Cool completely. Divide filling into threes, spread on cakes and add tops. You will have three beautiful cakes. — Barbara Jones, Hartford

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I’m looking for a  ride from Lewiston to Portland on Oct. 21. — 753-6050

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