Marijuana co-op bill step toward finding "the last major piece of our pot puzzle," rep says

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Colorado legislators have tried for years to find a state-centric solution to federal banking regulations as they apply to marijuana -- rules that have forced many shops to deal mainly in cash. But previous efforts have failed, and many observers thought this year's attempt at laying the groundwork for so-called marijuana co-operatives would meet the same fate. But the bill passed -- barely -- and awaits Governor John Hickenlooper's signature.

What's the measure do? Will co-ops ever come to pass? Or is the effort mainly symbolic? Here's what Representative Jonathan Singer, the bill's sponsor, has to say.

House Bill 14-1398, on view below, is complicated, Singer concedes -- "but if I was to tell you what it did in a sentence or two, I'd say that it creates a financial services cooperative for the marijuana industry that's otherwise up until this point been unbanked. It gives businesses the opportunity to form a cooperative that works like a credit union, but with even more scrutiny -- and no federal insurance."

In addition, Singer continues, "It allows us to fire a shot across the bow of the Federal Reserve. Not only does it give them a plan for what we think banking should look like for marijuana if traditional banks can't step up to the plate, but it would actually put in place these cooperatives, which would make those arguments for the state. Because the federal government doesn't deal in hypotheticals."

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Senator Pat Steadman with Governor John Hickenlooper at the 2013 signing of the civil unions bill.
In shepherding the legislation through the general assembly, Singer achieved a goal that predates the 2012 passage of Amendment 64. The previous year, after major banks throughout the state stopped working with marijuana businesses to avoid running afoul of federal drug-trafficking laws, Senator Pat Steadman spoke to us about creating credit unions for dispensaries and the like at a statewide level. But Steadman's proposal died in early 2012, and subsequent efforts to revive the concept went nowhere.

After Amendment 64's passage, federal officials belatedly pledged to make changes to the banking system in regard to marijuana -- but banking memos issued in February did little to assure the financial industry. The documents gave banks permission to offer financial services to legal marijuana businesses, but they also required them to submit filings known as "Suspicious Activity Reports," or "SARS," that we described at the time as "onerous and dripping with potential liability -- perhaps so much so that banks may still shy away from working with marijuana businesses."

That proved to be the case. Indeed, many if not most marijuana businesses remain largely cash operations, with all the dangers that entails.

"The Denver Police Department said that in 2009, something like 17 percent of shops were robbed or burglarized," Singer says, "and another analysis from NBC said that out of 325 companies in Denver, there had been 317 burglaries and seven robberies over the previous two years. And these places aren't being targeted for one kind of green. They're being robbed for the kind of green that works on every street corner: cash."

In the meantime, Singer continues, "the federal government isn't seeing the issue on the same level we are. These are business owners and workers whose safety is being put at risk -- and the same thing goes for community members. Let's say a robber thinks he knows where a dispensary owner lives. But what if he goes to the wrong house and starts demanding to know where the cash is? You might have a suburban couple that's got no idea what's going on and are now at risk of their lives because the Federal Reserve won't step up and let this now-legal industry access the same services anybody else can."

Continue for more about the marijuana co-op bill, including the complete document.


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22 comments
KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

Food for thought: IF cannabis banking is illegal for businesses --what bank is holding the tens of millions in marijuana tax monies collected by the state of Colorado and why isn't that tax money considered money laundering under RICO laws?

Clark Snyder
Clark Snyder

A republican in the White House will bring an attorney general interested in bringing federal laws to bear in Colorado and Washington State. If this measure insulates the marijuana business in Colorado from such pressures, the Fed will find a way to quash such. There must be Federal legislation that align with the state laws in order for this business to operate on the same legal playing field as any other.

Steven Peterson
Steven Peterson

How does the saying go? We pass laws knowing you'll break them so we can own you and make you do what we want? Someone will get that listed I am sure. Regulations, policies and laws are about control. Conform or become a slave in our tax farm, oops, prison.

Steven Peterson
Steven Peterson

But Washington DC political hacks cannot point at the increased crimes they caused via regulations (knowingly) when it becomes a federal debate if banks or credit unions help those evil Satan worshiping pot heads. Satire on my image of marijuana businessman, but not about Washington DC...

Steven Peterson
Steven Peterson

Feds want them to be robbed. It's really simple. If they have any crimes happen in relation to the sale of marijuana they can say "Look, it increases crime" with no context by stats... This is on purpose and with reason. Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Jim Fresier
Jim Fresier

I take back the last sentence, local credit unions need to grow a pair and accept the money that state law allows them to accept.

Jim Fresier
Jim Fresier

I like this idea. Lets create one source of federally illegal money. Then lets watch that money accumulate. And then we will just tell the feds not to go after the collectives? It could be a good way to bring the pre emption issue to a head in court. Banks accept drug money all the time. Some even distribute special boxes for large cash deposits. Mj companies need to work with large national banks. This is the only solution.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Yaaaaaaaaay!! -- Colorado LEGALIZED Marijuana !!


         *** Boulder DA charges Class 1 FELONY for Marijuana !! ***


Thirty uniformed and plainclothes Boulder officers swept Central Park on Friday in a sting operation, arresting seven suspects and disbanding what police say was a network of dealers selling marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms.


Police arrested six adults and one juvenile as part of their months-long undercover investigation into the suspected drug ring in downtown Boulder.

Investigators say the suspects sold pot and mushrooms to juveniles and adults. 


Officers say they think the dealers bought their marijuana from a local medical marijuana dispensary.


Those arrested were Jannene Parrish Barrett, 57; Derrick Jordan Marshall Parish, 21; David John Sanderson, 20; Jayson Anthony Seuferer, 32; Jeffrey Daniel Ferriss Sr., 35; Gerald Emery Newman, 29; and a 16-year-old female. 



Barrett, Parish, Sanderson, Newman and Seuferer are facing charges of distributing drugs as part of an organized group and distributing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, both of which are Class 1 felonies, punishable by eight to 32 years in prison and fines between $5,000 and $1 million.


"We understand the safety concerns of Boulder residents and today's arrests help make the downtown area safer for residents and visitors," interim Boulder police Chief Greg Testa said in a statement. "We won't tolerate this type of criminal activity, and we will continue to target individuals and groups that sell illegal drugs in our community."


Boulder police are still looking for three suspects who have outstanding warrants in connection with the investigation: Bryan Antonie Townsend, 29; Michael James Morton, 57; and an unidentified 17-year-old female. Townsend is also facing Class 1 felony drug charges.


"My office takes a hard stance against those who deal drugs to minors, and those who deal drugs near schools and in the public places in our community, such as is alleged to have occurred here," Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said in a statement. "My office worked closely with Boulder police, who ran an excellent undercover operation that led to today's arrests."


Class 1 felonies, punishable by eight to 32 years in prison and fines between $5,000 and $1 million.


Thank Jah that Colorado LEGALIZED Marijuana !!


Thanks Lyin' Brian Vicente, Mendacious Mason Tvert and Bullshit Betty Aldworth !!

Monkey
Monkey

Why do people think the Federal Reserve is the feds? That's like saying Fed-Ex is the feds, and Colorado wants authorization to send weed through their delivery service.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

"It allows us to fire a shot across the bow of the Federal Reserve."


Idiotic nonsense, sounds like something a Teabagger would say.


ANYTHING they attempt to do would still be a violation of Federal Money Laundering laws, which carry a 20 year prison sentence ... for each count.


Just ask soon-to-be-EX pot lawyer David Furtado.


.

420angels
420angels

@KathleenChippi There is a bank that takes the accounts:

http://www.healersbank.com is the place to go to get a marijuana account for dispensary owners.  To you question I imagine like everything else prosecutors have the right to pick and choose which cases they prosecute.  Beyond that look at what happens to banks that launder money (HSBC) they pay a fine and continue working.  In this case the Fed won't even prosecute them!

420angels
420angels

Except that Colorado is a swing state and for that reason alone no president would ever press the issue when the vote is so close to 50/50.

KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

yes--just like no high court has ever ruled on whether federal law even trumps state MJ/MMJ laws.  The feds and the state governments 'claim' it does but there is no case law to back that claim up.  


for the first time ever a high court will rule on this in June-July 2014.  Look at Cpats v. DISH Network and the PCRLP amicus brief. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey  ... right? ... how pathetic is it that Elected POLITICIANS don't have a fucking clue? 


Stoners can't even retain competent educated idiots to argue their case.


Epic FAIL!



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@420angels ... nonsense.


Less that 10% of the population are regular marijuana users, even less than that are actively registered voters. Fewer still are brain-dead enough to vote for a Repuglykkkan out of spite, thinking that ANY Repug would ever have a kinder, gentler policy toward Recreational Drug Use.



420angels
420angels

@KathleenChippi Congrats on that.  Keep up the good work.  Down with DISH!  (AT&T you are stupid to buy them with this case coming).

420angels
420angels

@KathleenChippi And Fundly no less, Fantastic.  You've learned much from the event which prevent your language from appearing on the 2012 ballot.  You go, grasshoppa!

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