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Last Word: When the Mainstream Media Discovers the Cannabis Industry’s Cash Problem

If you’re in the Cannabis Industry, you know all too well that the mainstream media is just now “discovering” issues that you have been dealing with for a long time.

Here’s today’s example: How marijuana businesses lack access to the banking system.

On Monday, The Washington Post published an article titled Rising Marijuana Sales Leave Pot Shops Flush With Cash They Can’t DepositIn it, Post reporter Reid Wilson discovers how tough it is when you run an all-cash business without the benefit of banks or other financial institutions where you can make a deposit.

He writes:

When marijuana businesses try to pay their taxes, the federal law that makes marijuana illegal limits their access to financial institutions.

Despite assurances from the Treasury Department that they would not be prosecuted, banks have been reluctant to open accounts for weed-related businesses. Some banks that accept money generated by marijuana sales fear that they may leave themselves open to federal money-laundering charges.

That’s forced marijuana businesses in several states to keep their profits in cash. And when those businesses have to pay sales and other taxes, they deliver those payments in cash — something almost no other business has to do.”

I’m sure there may be a few people surprised by this out there, but it’s hardly breaking news that marijuana businesses struggle to deal with cash in quantities that few other businesses do.

What IS more newsworthy is the fact that marijuana businesses in state’s with full legalization are paying their taxes in cash, and that’s causing all sorts of headaches for the government in those states. As The Post story notes:

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has taken note of trends in Washington, where Smith estimated that about a quarter of all marijuana-related businesses are paying their taxes in cash, and Colorado, where a spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue said cash “seems to be the primary method of payment for marijuana businesses.” …

Oregon and Alaska, where voters passed marijuana legalization initiatives in 2014, are preparing for the cash influx. Oregon’s commission will spend $636,000 to upgrade security at its main office. The commission expects businesses to pay about $400,000 a month in sales taxes alone, meaning staffers will have to deal with at least $100,000 in cash until banking regulations are changed. … “

As big as a pain it is for marijuana businesses to deal with cash, it’s almost amusing to see state’s struggling to find security solutions for the large influx of cannabis taxes that they’re no receiving in states like Washington and Colorado.

Perhaps if the states start seeing how hard it is to handle that kind of cash, maybe they’ll lean on their congressional representatives, the IRS, and the FDIC to help come up with solution to the marijuana money problem.

And that may actually be the best thing about stories like this one in The Washington Post. Yes, the Cannabis Industry’s cash problem isn’t new, but maybe having national media like The Post “discover” these industry-wide issues for themselves will help to shine the spotlight on them and drive more reasonable minds to come up with more reasonable solutions.

Having to handle huge chunks of cash is crazy, dangerous, and costly. If nothing else happens before President Obama leaves office, perhaps he can do what he can to open the banking system to America’s fastest growing industry.

I’m guessing it might even be a little more popular than Obamacare.

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