Although it has been legal to sell marijuana in Colorado for nearly two years, sellers have only been able to accept cash, and they have remained locked out of the banking system. The Treasury Department issued new rules in February to allow legal marijuana shops to use banks, but Colorado has become the first state to follow through with new regulations.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper supports the pot bank plan and is expected to sign it into law, though a spokesman said Wednesday the governor had yet to review the final language.
Lawmakers from both parties supported the banking co-ops as a way to properly audit marijuana shops and to make sure they’re paying all their taxes. Dispensary owners came to the Capitol this session to tell of their difficulties paying taxes and utilities in cash and the dangers of dealing in cash.
“It is very easy to see somebody get killed over this issue,” Marijuana Industry Group Director Michael Elliott testified last month.
The latest studies say that marijuana legalization reduces crime, so it is ironic that regulatory barriers would make it more dangerous and difficult for these newly-legal businesses to operate.