Cannabis industry may finally move past cash as Democrats look to loosen banking restrictions

Denver Post

Colorado’s cannabis industry has been forced to deal primarily in cash for years due to banking restrictions that pot advocates and banking lobbyists say put shops, growers and others at risk of theft. The industry is now cautiously optimistic this year that, with Democrats in power in Washington, its eight years of trying to lift those restrictions on banks and credit unions will pay off. Because marijuana remains an illicit drug under federal law — and banking the proceeds of illicit drug sales is a federal crime — credit unions and banks are limited in their ability to work with cannabis companies, and take risks when doing so. As a result, the large and growing marijuana industry still remains cash-only, seven years after legalization in Colorado. “We’ve got people who are still dealing in cash; we’ve got employees still being paid in cash. It’s just totally irresponsible,” said Chuck Smith, CEO of the cannabis company BellRock Brands and board president at Colorado Leads, a coalition of cannabis companies in the state. Colorado dispensaries sold $175 million worth of products in November alone, pushing the industry’s annual revenue to $2 billion for the first time last year. “Most cannabis companies in Colorado are banked at this point, but that’s just a basic checking account,” said Truman Bradley, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a trade association. “There’s no merchant processing, really, and that’s very difficult. I’m talking debit cards, credit cards, that kind of thing. The services that do exist leave a bit to be desired.” Daniel Brenner, Special to the Denver PostManager Gerard Whalum helps a customer Thursday, March 28, 2019, at MMJ American Dispensary in Denver. The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, or SAFE Banking Act, has been introduced every Congress since 2013 by Rep. Ed Perlmutter,…

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Source : Cannabis industry may finally move past cash as Democrats look to loosen banking restrictions

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