Colorado Pot Banking Co-Ops Help Make Cash-Only Weed Biz Legit

Image: Colorado Pot Banking Co-Ops Help Make Cash-Only Weed Biz Legit

Thursday, 08 May 2014 11:06 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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A Colorado pot banking industry may soon be a reality after state legislators this week approved a series of co-ops to offer financial services and help legitimize the currently cash-only marijuana business.

"We are very happy this legislation passed," Andrew Freedman, the Colorado governor's marijuana coordinator, told The Washington Post. "This gives us an avenue to go to the Federal Reserve and get cash off the street. That was by far our number one priority."

Because pot is still illegal under federal law, and because banks are federally regulated institutions, Colorado's pot industry has been primarily cash-only. But that can pose a problem to growers trying to build a business and to the government when it comes to tracking the product for tax purposes, according to The Post.

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"The so-called 'cannabis credit co-ops' would function like credit unions, allowing licensed marijuana businesses to pool resources, have checking accounts and take out loans," the newspaper noted. "The co-ops would be able to make investments on behalf of their members in municipal bonds and other securities."

Though the measure gained approval from both Republicans and Democrats — and is expected to be signed into law by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — it will only be enacted if the U.S. Federal Reserve signs off on it.

"I've steadfastly maintained that the solution does not lie in this building, but in Washington," state Sen. Pat Steadman, a Democrat, told the Denver Post. "This is a bill we know is imperfect, but it’s something we’re trying to do to force a dialogue on the issue. The status quo for access to financial services is unacceptable."

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