Pubdate: Thu, 08 May 2014
Source: Rolling Stone (US)
Copyright: 2014 Rolling Stone
Author: Kory Grow


New bill would provide safety to marijuana businesses that deal
in large amounts of cash and make them more responsible for paying

By KORY GROW May 8, 2014 12:15 PM ET Colorado lawmakers have approved
the world's first banking system designed to accommodate the marijuana
industry, The Associated Press reports. After Governor John
Hickenlooper signs the bill, it could take effect following approval
from the Federal Reserve.

The Great Marijuana Experiment: A Tale of Two Drug Wars

With the recreational sale of weed legal in the state, they have
addressed two major issues with the industry, which still deals mainly
in cash: The banking system will give marijuana sellers a place to put
their money, effectively limiting the dangers of dealing in large
amounts of cash, and it would make them more responsible to the IRS.
The plan allows pot sellers to operate as a network of uninsured
cooperatives, which complies with the U.S. Treasury's guidelines for

Some banks have resisted working with marijuana businesses, even
denying them checking accounts, since marijuana is still illegal on
the federal level. The U.S. Treasury outlined conditions under which
banks and weed businesses could work together in February, but they
did not offer blanket immunity to banks, Reuters reports. Financial
industry officials have speculated that federal law must change in
order for banks to fully work with the marijuana industry.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has said he supports the bill and
is expected to sign it into law, though he had not reviewed its
language as of Wednesday, AP said. After that, the Federal Reserve
must approve the state bill for it to take effect.

A few banks have already begun accepting marijuana clients under the
Treasury's guidelines. In eastern Washington State, where recreational
marijuana will be sold legally beginning in July, the Numerica Credit
Union is accepting select pot growers and processors. Some
Colorado-based credit unions have also reportedly begun accepting
marijuana business clients, though none of have acknowledged the
practice publicly.

Another bill the governor will be looking at soon is meant to allocate
a portion of tax revenue from pot sales to marijuana enforcement,
Reuters said, as well as to fund education initiatives to discourage
youths from using the drug. Colorado legislators have also approved a
requirement that edible marijuana products must be identified as
containing THC.

Countries that do not have a ban on marijuana sales have not
implemented banking systems endemic to the weed industry, AP said.
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