aamericans for safe access
alabama medical marijuana coalition
Americans for Safe Access
Medical marijuana entrepreneurs in Nevada are considering the possibility of working with private vault companies to store their cash.
Vegas Vaults, a safety deposit box storage facility in Clark County, said it is already receiving inquiries from prospective MMJ business owners seeking an alternative to traditional banking services, which are largely unavailable to companies that handle cannabis.
The company allows customers to store “virtually anything” they want – including cash. Users can do so anonymously, meaning that Vegas Vaults doesn’t collect any information on these customers. That could prevent courts from seizing the boxes or locking down assets.
The company’s owner, William Bayne, said one challenge for potential clients that want to store money is that the boxes only hold approximately $1 million in cash. High-volume medical marijuana businesses might have to stockpile much more than that, given that many of them won’t be able to land bank accounts.
In other markets, entrepreneurs have paid to build vaults or safe rooms in their dispensaries, though these options are expensive and require ample space. Other businesses pay transportation services to move their cash to secure vault businesses.
Nevada passed a law legalizing dispensaries last year, and several communities have started the application process for MMJ business licenses.
Banks in the United States love money, except marijuana money. For years state-legal marijuana operations have struggled to find banks that will take their accounts out of fear of federal action for supporting a federally illegal industry. Those issues may now be a thing of the past in Colorado at least, as the state legislature yesterday gave approval to a Colorado pot credit union of sorts, that will give medical and recreational marijuana businesses access to otherwise normal banking services. The approval came on the last day of the state legislative session, a session that has been packed with marijuana legislation aimed at curtailing otherwise legal access. The banking bill is a welcome piece of legislation by members of the industry, who have had to switch from bank to bank to bank over the last few years. The move is also one of safety, as dispensaries have had to become cash-only businesses over the last few years - making them targets of robberies and theft. Lawmakers say that banking services will help with industry transparency and show the feds that money can be tightly controlled. "This is the final piece to our pot puzzle," said state Rep. Jonathan Singer, who sponsored the bill. The legislation is now headed to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper for signing. The bill creates a financial cooperative similar to a credit union, but without the federal deposit insurance requirement of other banks and credit unions around the country. The state financial services commissioner would...
Legislators in Colorado have crafted a bill that would create local financial-services cooperatives for legal marijuana businesses, taking a page from the credit union model.
But the bill would require the Federal Reserve Bank to approve the new co-ops, which could doom the idea entirely.
Rep. Jonathan Singer of Boulder proposed House Bill 1398 this week. Under the bill, the co-ops would be overseen by the State Commissioner of Financial Services in a manner similar to existing credit unions. The co-ops would also have to comply with the banking guidance released in February by the Attorney General’s office.
According to Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s director of marijuana coordination, the idea came from credit unions that unsuccessfully tried to cater to the industry. Freedman said that if the bill passes, it would take approximately one year for the co-op structure to form.
That isn’t likely to happen, however, because the bill requires the credit unions to operate with FDIC oversight. Experts believe the federal government is unlikely to approve the partnership due to marijuana’s inclusion in the Controlled Substances Act.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Pat Steadman of Denver, said the bill does not solve the banking problem but would at least “force the conversation” over marijuana banking.