Banking has been a major challenge for cannabis businesses since Colorado first legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. Marijuana is still a Schedule I narcotic causing state and federal laws to clash. Banks do not want to be associated with a federally illegal drug.
“This is something that is going to be a part of the next generation and the future, and we need to get it right.” said Mark Mason, an attorney who has worked with several marijuana companies. “And if we are not going to have banking … and have millions and millions of dollars on the streets where bad things can happen, that is not responsible.”
Fourth Corner Credit Union aimed to become the world’s first bank focused on the marijuana industry. A marijuana-focused credit union could help get the “cash off the streets”. However, this past tuesday a judge dismissed their lawsuit that was seeking federal approval.
The Federal Reserve says marijuana businesses can not be allowed into the central banking system because the drug remains outlawed on the federal level. The case for banking and pot must be brought to congress.
In the meantime, cannabis business owners are forced to transport their cash, which is risky and inefficient. Some marijuana companies have spent up to $150,000 to build their own secure vaults and hired security teams like MPS International, which provides security services for the marijuana industry.
“The federal government and these banking laws are making it so that people have to walk around with tens of thousands of dollars in their businesses, in their cars, in their homes, putting these people in danger,” Michael Julian, MPS International’s chief executive officer said.