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Pot Sales of $5 million in Five Days and No Place to Put the Money? Denver City Council Reacts

Posted on January 07, 2014 by Site Admin

The inability of marijuana businesses to straight-forwardly stash their cash in standard financial institutions due to federal banking regulations aimed at stopping drug trafficking has been an issue in Colorado for years. But despite Obama administration statements about possible fixes and a request from Governor John Hickenlooper more than three months ago, nothing has been done. Now, however, with the recreational pot biz reportedly taking in more than $5 million in the first five days of sales, the Denver City Council is raising its voice.

At last night's council meeting, the body unanimously passed a proclamation calling for the feds to rewrite banking regs to allow for state-legal weed operations to use banks like any other business.

The text of the entire proclamation is below, but here's a telling excerpt:
....Forcing Colorado's legal marijuana industry to operate on a cash-only footing creates heightened risks of crime -- risks that marijuana businesses themselves will become targets of crime, risks that criminal elements will seek to become involved in the marijuana industry, and thereby risks that governments will be defrauded, employees will be victimized, and customers and nearby neighborhoods will be put in danger....
Getting all the council members to agree on anything regarding pot is something of a miracle. Note the contentiousness over initial attempts to ban smoking on front porches -- a proposal that was defeated by a single vote only after weeks of back-and-forth drama.

But given the $5 million-plus sales estimate in less than a week (a figure shared by the National Cannabis Industry Association), the prospect of bad things of the sort mentioned in the passage above convinced even the most reluctant councilpersons to set aside their pot suspicions and sign on.

That's a good thing, according to the council's Charlie Brown, who says some shops have taken to using decoys in order to safely get cash out the door.

Glad of the council's support is Medical Marijuana Industry Group executive director Michael Elliott. Prior to the meeting, he issued the following statement:
A lack of banking services has created significant public safety and accountability issues for licensed and regulated marijuana businesses. While we in Colorado have built a comprehensive and robust regulatory and licensing framework, banking needs a federal solution. A lack of a federal solution will lead to increases in the worst sort of crimes. We hope the federal government resolves the banking issue quickly; the safety of Colorado citizens depends on it.


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