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Marijuana banking meeting raises hopes -- but can anything be done by January 1?

marijuana.money.thinkstock.205x205.jpg
The inability of marijuana businesses to legally use banking services has been a problem in Colorado for years. But with recreational sales slated to start on January 1, the issue takes on even greater urgency -- hence, the noteworthiness of a closed-door meeting last week in Washington, D.C., involving a Treasury Department group.

Can a solution be found in the next couple of weeks? Hard to say -- but two local industry representatives underscore the importance of finding one.

As we reported in October, when Governor John Hickenlooper formally asked the feds to fix pot banking, dispensaries and other affiliated businesses are forbidden from using federally regulated banks because marijuana remains illegal under U.S. law. The substance falls under rules put in place to prevent money laundering by drug dealers, among others.

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John Hickenlooper.
Nonetheless, apparent movement on the issue took a step forward during a September hearing at which Deputy Attorney General James Cole revealed that the Justice Department was working on a possible fix in conjunction with other agencies.

That was good news to the Denver Auditor's office, which had sent a letter in advance of the hearing arguing that forcing marijuana businesses to operate strictly on a cash basis created a range of problems.

"Anytime you do this much business in cash, it's a target for crime -- and it's pretty apparent that's been going on here over the last couple of years," maintained Denis Berckefeldt, director of communication for Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher, in an interview with Westword. "And you can't account for this money. How much have you sold? Are you paying the taxes you're supposed to be paying? How much is hidden? If you don't have a paper trail, you can't track it, and all the seed-to-sale systems in the world won't solve the problem."

Such concerns are heightened by the expectation of a dozen recreational marijuana shops opening on January 1. Moreover, demand is thought to be so strong that some shops are worried about running out of product shortly thereafter.

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Michael Elliott.
No wonder local marijuana industry figures were so interested in the aforementioned meeting last Thursday. As reported by Philly.com, the sit-down involved the Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group, a panel that specializes in topics related to money laundering. And while there were no announcements afterward about conclusions or possible actions, Michael Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, hopes members understand that dragging their feet isn't an option. In a statement provided to Westword, he writes:
A lack of banking services creates major public safety and accountability problems. As the marijuana businesses begin catering to the full 21-and-up population in Colorado, these problems will be magnified. While we in Colorado will do everything we can to address this issue on a state and local level, this problem needs to be fixed at the federal level. 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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Aaron Smith.
These thoughts are echoed by Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. His statement reads:
Without access to basic banking services, many legitimate cannabis businesses are forced to manage sales, payroll, and even tax bills entirely in cash. That puts their customers, employees, and fellow community members at completely unnecessary risk. Everyone agrees that the situation is untenable; the Treasury Department and the Department of Justice must act and act quickly. The tide of public opinion is turning ever more quickly in support of regulated marijuana markets and, in 2014, at least six states will be implementing new regulations for these markets. It is long past time for the federal government to stop putting citizens in harms way by denying legally recognized businesses access to secure banking services.
Even so, the odds of the matter being resolved by January 1 are long. Although Congress doesn't have to approve this regulatory tweak, its complexities, and the upcoming holiday season, will make rapid implementation challenging. As such, there's likely to be a lot of cash changing hands in a few weeks.

Here's the October letter requesting banking changes; it's signed by Hickenlooper and Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

John Hickenlooper-Jay Inslee Marijuana Banking Letter

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa October: "Marijuana: John Hickenlooper asks feds to fix pot banking."


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26 comments
Thisis_Insane
Thisis_Insane

Why doesn't Bank of America step in and offer to handle this? They were caught with their hands in the Mexican Cartel cookie jar, and were even bending over backwards to accommodate them. Why won't they lift a finger to help the Cannabis Industry that is growing here, in the US? Heck, nobody from that BIG BANK was even arrested for that fiasco. The Department of Justice has said that the banks will not be pursued for it, but they are curiously silent on this issue. What a bunch of hypocrites. They would rather sneak money under the table when Washington DC has given them, and Wall Street the green light to skim as much money off the American People as they can.

MsPrissy
MsPrissy


Lower medical pot fee under consideration in Colorado -


DENVER (AP) - The annual fee to be a medical marijuana patient in Colorado could be dropping by more than half to just $15 a year. 

The state health board takes up a proposal Wednesday to lower fees for the estimated 112,000 people in Colorado with medical permission to use marijuana. 

The annual fees collected by the state health department are meant to cover only the cost of maintaining the registry.

So when the health department collects excess money, managers must lower fess. Current fees are $35 a year. 

That's a drop from $90 a year charged before 2011. A state audit report delivered earlier this year faulted the health department for keeping excess marijuana patient fees in reserve. 

Recreational pot sales begin Jan. 1 in Colorado.

Making too much in Profits ....

Can we get that rebate in Buds?



Bryan Clark
Bryan Clark

screw them and start a new financial industry

Mozart99
Mozart99

My dispensary takes credit cards.

SteadyPofiling
SteadyPofiling

Banking is going to be an inevitable reality for the marijuana industry. The YES vote for A64 forced change in a variety of ways for agencies both state and federal. Any other states selling retail weed to consumers in 2 weeks time? I didn't think so. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 "A lack of a federal solution will lead to increases in the worst sort of crimes." -- MMIG Pig Mike Elliot


So Marijuana Dispensaries not only increase crime, they increase the WORST SORT of CRIMES.


Noted.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Sure ... the U$A is going to allow Continuing Criminal Enterprises to Launder their Drug $$$ in a handful of states, while continuing to prosecute and incarcerate criminals for money laundering in other states --- and internationally via US Foreign Policy mandates which force other nations to prosecute and surrender Criminal Money Laundering proceeds, deploying international sanctions on those that refuse.


And one day, pigs will fly.




Monkey
Monkey

Why would anyone think "a closed-door meeting last week in Washington, D.C., involving a Treasury Department group" would be talking about Colorado weed? We are the only ones who care, to them, it's all money laundering.

"If you don't have a paper trail, you can't track it". That sucks for State auditors, but again, federal auditors don't care, they already have the authority needed to bankrupt weed businesses, with or without a paper trail.

"We hope the federal government resolves the banking issue quickly; the safety of Colorado citizens depends on it." Be careful what you wish for, a new president might think the safety of Colorado citizens is best served by a new memo, officially threatening financial institutes that participate in the drug trade. To assume the feds will "resolve the issue" by allowing banks to serve Colorado marijuana cartels is obnoxiously self absorbed. They might allow banks to participate, but that's not the only way to resolve the issue. If they do officially permit banks to launder money, it wont be for the safety of Coloradans, it will be to better track criminals willing to leave a paper trail.


Grow your own or hire someone with skill to assist you!! The feds have repeatedly said they don't care about personal use/cultivation. The only ones who find those people a threat is the weed industry, because they don't like walk-in-closets producing better quality herb than their 10 warehouses. If I knew someone who grew better tomatoes, or brewed better beer, for the same price or less, I would never buy tomatoes or beer from a store again.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Bryan Clark .. on your own private island.

Mozart99
Mozart99

it might actualy be that they only take debit cards

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@tutonehcc  


The bitcoin crash of 2013: Don't you feel silly now?


People who thought that bitcoins could serve as either an investment vehicle or an alternative world currency got their heads handed to them on Thursday and Friday. That's when the price of the attention-grabbing crypto-currency got crushed, falling from a quoted $1,200 per "coin" to less than $600. At this writing, it's quoted on the Mt. Gox exchange at about $830.

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-the-bitcoin-crash-20131207,0,7011276.story#ixzz2nkvnM0Bq

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@SteadyPofiling  " Any other states selling retail weed to consumers in 2 weeks time? I didn't think so. "


Does it hurt to be so ignorant?


SteadyPofiling
SteadyPofiling

@DonkeyHotay This question has already been answered by an independent study a couple years ago. It found that the enhanced security at retail dispensaries led to a decrease in crime in that area. Criminals don't like surveillance cameras, security guards etc.

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay<======   The prohibitionist ONDCP shill's true colors come out.  You sure love the taste of Kevin Sabet's asshole.

..Matt...
..Matt...

Still illegal for the bank and card processor. The dispensary no doubt lied on their application, which is bank fraud in and of itself.

..Matt...
..Matt...

So Mike Elliott is lying. Again.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1  "I have better things to do than respond to your inane babblings [sic]." 

Classic sucka1 FAIL!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1"lives in a pathetic fantasy world in which anything and everything that shoots down his hysterical, inane, and moronic drivel and outright lies is considered "idiotic nonsense"."



@stuka1 "a cube has 6 FACES X 4 SIDES = 24 SIDES"



LOLz LOLz LOLz!


stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay  <=== ONDCP shill and personal rent-boi to Kevin Sabet, lives in a pathetic fantasy world in which anything and everything that shoots down his hysterical, inane, and moronic drivel and outright lies is considered "idiotic nonsense".

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 <== always spews idiotic nonsense, pretends he didn't say that idiotic nonsense when it's consistently proved to be idiotic nonsense.



stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay<==== always resorts to his Stalker file of irrelevant mined quotes when he gets his ass kicked all over this blog.  


Go back to sucking hobo's asses on Colfax, it's the only thing you can do right.

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