governor signs law creating state-run marijuana banking co-ops
Send a link to a friend
[June 07, 2014]
By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado's governor
signed into law on Friday a measure to create the nation's first
state-run marijuana financial cooperative, potentially giving newly
legalized cannabis vendors access to banking services through the U.S.
The bill signed by Governor John Hickenlooper permits the creation
of so-called "cannabis co-ops" – similar to credit unions without
deposit insurance – which will be governed by the state's financial
Voters in Colorado and Washington state passed ballot measures in
2012 legalizing recreational marijuana use by adults.
The first recreational pot stores opened in Colorado in January, and
Washington is set to follow suit this year. Both states are among
the nearly two dozen and the District of Columbia which allow
marijuana use for medical purposes.
But traditional banks have been unwilling to provide services to
medical and recreational marijuana businesses because cannabis
remains illegal under federal law.
Supporters of the Colorado legislation say the cash-only nature of
the industry limits owners' access to capital, makes it difficult
for the state to track revenue for tax-collecting purposes, and
makes the stores targets for criminals.
To get access to key banking services such as credit card
transactions and checking accounts, the Federal Reserve would need
to grant permission.
Mike Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a
trade association, said the Colorado law does not solve the banking
problem because it is unlikely the Fed would sign off the proposal.
[to top of second column]
"The ultimate solution to banking lies with the United States
Congress," he said. "We continue to urge Congress to address banking
... This is no longer an issue about marijuana, but about safety,
transparency, and accountability."
Denver police underscored the safety issue this week when they sent
out an alert saying investigators had received credible intelligence
about a plot to rob marijuana business couriers in and around the
"All marijuana businesses should be alert and aware of their
surroundings as they conduct their business," the alert said.
(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.