Banks and Pot Shops Don't Get Along — Is It Because of Federal Regulations or The Smell of the Cash?


What's the biggest challenge faced by pot shops in Colorado? Well, it turns out it might be finding a place to deposit their cash. Banks are refusing to allow marijuana businesses to have basic banking services. Why? Well, part of it might just be the smell. Having been in a marijuana dispensary, I can tell you that the whole place smells like pot. In fact, I'm pretty sure my clothes even smelled like pot for the rest of the day. And since banks typically aren't the sorts of places that want a weed smell wafting through the air, they haven't been all that eager to take on cash from the local dispensary ever since medical marijuana became legal in the state.

But now that pot is more or less completely legal in Colorado, there's an even bigger issue, namely the fact that anyone who facilitates the cultivation or distribution of a Schedule I narcotic like marijuana is in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Sure, the Attorney General has said it's okay for banks to hand out loans to people looking to get into the pot business, there's no telling what individual prosecutors might do, or what might happen in the next administration.

Of course, this could all just be an excuse not to take on all that smelly cash. Because yes, words like Controlled Substances Act and federal prosecutor all sound very frightening, but what could be more terrifying than having a bank that smells like weed? Am I right?

But in all seriousness, until all this gets sorted out pot shops are overloaded with huge amounts of cash. Though some credit card companies have started relaxing their policies on marijuana purchases, too, marijuana remains mostly cash business, which gets to be a problem fast considering how much business they do. Just a trip to the Department of Revenue to pay taxes can mean putting tens of thousands of dollars into a car – and a normal car at that, since armored car companies have been pressured not to work with dispensaries. It's sort of a nightmare waiting to happen.

Lawmakers are working to fix the problem, but in the meantime, there's a lot of cash that smells like weed sitting around in dispensaries, probably getting high and having a great time.

Image: Ken Teegardin/flickr