Colorado projects $578.1 million a year in combined wholesale and retail LEGAL marijuana sales. Ever wonder what the owners of the dispensaries do with all this money? Banks are reluctant to do business with the weed dispensaries because there is a thin line between banking and money laundering when it comes to this brand new industry and everyone is still trying to figure out how to handle all this cash.
The House voted in support of making it easier for banks to do business with legal pot shops and providers of medical marijuana.
The Treasury Department issued guidelines to banks telling them how to report on their bank dealings with weed-related businesses without breaking federal money-laundering laws.
Marijuana dealing is still against federal law, so banks who do business with marijuana dispensaries could be accused of helping them launder their money. Federal money laundering convictions can mean decades in prison.
The Treasury guidance was intended to give banks confidence that they can deal with marijuana businesses in states where they’re legal. Many banks are still reluctant to do so and this is forcing many weed operations to stash their cash. This is obviously dangerous because they are at risk of robbery.
“They are operating just in cash, which creates its own potential for crime, robbery, assault and battery,” said Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., whose state has legalized recreational pot use. “You cannot track the money. There is skimming and tax evasion. So the guidance by the Justice Department and the guidance by the Treasury Department is to bring this out into the open.”