Banks Say No To Marijuana Money, Legal Or Not

WASHINGTON:  In his second-floor office above a hair salon in north Seattle, Ryan Kunkel is seated on a couch placing $1,000 bricks of cash — dozens of them — in a rumpled brown paper bag. When he finishes, he stashes the money in the trunk of his BMW and sets off on an adrenalized drive downtown, darting through traffic and nervously checking to see if anyone is following him.

Despite the air of criminality, there is nothing illicit in what Mr. Kunkel is doing. He co-owns five legal medical marijuana dispensaries, and on this day he is heading to the Washington State Department of Revenue to commit the ultimate in law-abiding acts: paying taxes. After about 25 minutes at the agency, Mr. Kunkel emerges with a receipt for $51,321. [Read more…]

Cash-Only Cannabis: Colorado Pot Shops Work Through Financial Hiccups

COLORADO:  While the sale of recreational-use marijuana is now legal in Colorado, its status as illegal under U.S. law is leading to complications for vendors, who can’t use the federal banking system to do business.

When so-called “pot shops” opened up legally in Colorado last week, one thing they couldn’t offer shoppers was the ability to pay via credit card.

Due to differences in state and federal law regarding marijuana’s legality as well as legal concerns of the banking industry, these groundbreaking businesses, which drew national attention and more than $5 million in sales in the past week, can’t use the federal banking system. Which means that they’re stuck doing business—everything from taking customer payments to paying employees—in cold, hard cash.

“There is absolutely no justifiable reason to allow this threat to public safety to continue in those states where the regulated sale of marijuana has been made legal,” Betty Aldworth, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), said in a statement ahead of the launch of Colorado’s legal dispensaries.

 

Legal Pot States Banking On Thursday Secret Panel Meeting

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Aspiring legal marijuana producers and vendors in Colorado and Washington state have a lot riding on a closed-door meeting today held by an obscure Treasury Department group, which faces some interesting constitutional issues about a “growing” industry.

The meeting in Washington, D.C., involves the Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group, an advisory panel first set up by then Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen in 1994. The panel, known as BSAAG, evaluates issues related to money laundering.

In August, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department wouldn’t criminally prosecute recreational marijuana users and state-approved growers and vendors in Colorado and Washington, after the two states passed legalization referendums in 2012. [Read more…]

Banks To Get Guidance On Doing Business With Legal Weed Shops

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Banks, worried about running afoul of federal money-laundering law in dealing with state-authorized marijuana businesses, may soon receive some much-needed guidance from U.S. agencies.

Because a federal prohibition of marijuana is still in place, most banks do not work with marijuana businesses in states that have legalized them for fear they might be charged with money laundering or failing to comply with other federal laws.

The U.S. Treasury Department plans to discuss with banks and other regulators how the federal enforcement stance regarding state-authorized marijuana business could affect the banking industry. [Read more…]

Four Charged After California Marijuana Dispensary Owner Kidnapped, Penis Severed While Tortured

CALIFORNIA: Four people are accused of torturing a California marijuana dispensary owner with a blowtorch and cutting off his penis in an attempt to force him to reveal where he had buried piles of cash in the desert.

The defendants mistakenly believed the victim was hiding money and left him for dead on the side of the road, Orange County authorities said in announcing the case Friday. [Read more…]

Joint Venture: Medical Marijuana Entrepreneurs Seek Out Unusual Backers

MASSACHUSETTS: Shut out of traditional bank loans, budding entrepreneurs who want to sell medical marijuana in Massachusetts have been forced to get seed money from a host of unconventional sources — from restaurant and nightclub owners to friends and family, landscapers and even former legislators. [Read more…]

Joint Venture: Medical Marijuana Entrepreneurs Seek Out Unusual Backers

MASSACHUSETTS: Shut out of traditional bank loans, budding entrepreneurs who want to sell medical marijuana in Massachusetts have been forced to get seed money from a host of unconventional sources — from restaurant and nightclub owners to friends and family, landscapers and even former legislators. [Read more…]

Washington State Shops For A Bank To Handle Marijuana Money

WASHINGTON: Wanted: A bank for state government. Must offer attentive customer service. Must be able to handle several deposits a day, with drop-offs of up to 40 bags at a time. Must allow an account to be overdrafted during the day by more than $1.2 billion. [Read more…]

Washington State Shops For A Bank To Handle Marijuana Money

WASHINGTON: Wanted: A bank for state government. Must offer attentive customer service. Must be able to handle several deposits a day, with drop-offs of up to 40 bags at a time. Must allow an account to be overdrafted during the day by more than $1.2 billion. [Read more…]