At the beginning of this year, Colorado and Washington made history by legalizing the recreational use of mail order marijuana and THC-containing products. An article in the Denver Post from February reveals the enthusiasm of patrons at the Evergreen Apothecary, one of Denver’s Marijuana retailers, and at a few other locales such as the 3D Cannabis Center. The list of patrons to these retailers is quite replete, coming from all kinds of backgrounds, and some of them are purchasing marijuana for medical purposes while others just enjoy smoking.
The dismaying thing about these marijuana sales is that they are not without legal consequence. While the customers are entitled to use the marijuana they purchase as they like, the business owners could face prosecution by the Department of Justice and Treasury of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in both states where recreational use has been legalized. The trouble is with banks, who are being strong-armed by the DOJ into refusing to accept deposits from licensed Marijuana retailers. There is a loophole in the wording used by the legal marijuana industry that allows any individual or financial industry to be prosecuted for suspicious banking activity if they accept deposits from a Marijuana Retailer.
The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act, which was proposed last year by State Representatives Perlmutter (CO) and Heck (WA) before recreational use was legalized, should have protected Marijuana retailers from the current climate. The state of Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division already requires that Marijuana retailers first obtain licensing with them as Medical Marijuana Vendors in order to qualify for a retail license. Retailers that have met these criteria have a trained team of employees that follow an ordained protocol for obtaining specified strains and grades from approved growers. This sums up that federal concerns regarding the uncontrolled distribution of marijuana by dealers to sensitive parties are unfounded. Limitations on where the marijuana can be obtained from and how it arrives at the medical vendor before it is distributed by a licensed retailer ensure that marijuana remains with the approved vendor after it has been purchased. The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act intends to protect banks, credit unions, and money holders from prosecution for dealings with legitimate marijuana businesses that have cleared state licensing requirements. Until this act is approved, legitimate marijuana businesses have to conduct all of their business using cold cash.