Sales of Colorado cannabis broke the $100 million mark in August for the first time. Recreational sales made up $59.2 million of the total, while medical sales came in at $41.4 million.
“It means that $100 million is going to licensed, taxpaying businesses, creating jobs and helping to build new schools, instead of going to cartels and drug dealers — as is the case in the 46 states that don’t regulate marijuana,” said Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project.
The only problem for business owners remains finding a place to deposit all that cash.
“I’ve gone through at least eight banks,” said Shaun Gindi, owner of Colorado’s Compassionate Pain Management.
Andrew DeAngelo, operations director at Harborside Health Center in Oakland, said in June the company had already gone through different 15 banks.
Only 220 of some 7,600 U.S. banks and credit unions currently accept money from marijuana businesses, fearing crackdowns by the federal government.
Securing such large amounts of cash has become an enormous business expense for cannabis companies.
“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,” said Michael Julian, CEO of the cannabis security company MPS International. “[It’s] putting these people in danger.”
Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced a bill in July that would allow marijuana businesses better access to banking services, but that bill remains in subcommittees for review. Meanwhile, private firms have stepped in to try to solve the problem, such as a CannaNative, which is trying to connect marijuana firms with the Native American banking system.
Riffle sees this as a short-term solution at best: “I think rather than finding a way to work around broken and outdated federal marijuana laws, Congress needs to simply fix the law,” he said.