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Lack of banking access hampers marijuana businesses

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“For us to not have a bank account is not really an option.”

On Monday December 28th, a federal judge heard arguments from both sides in a case that could allow Colorado marijuana businesses access to banking services. Larger banks frequently shut down accounts tied to marijuana as the industry is still illegal under federal law. The state of Colorado chartered a special marijuana credit union last year to give pot businesses access to banking services, however the U.S. Federal Reserve has kept The Fourth Corner Credit Union from being able to access the nation’s banking system. The case now lies with U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson.

Chris Woods, owner of Terrapin Care Station, a marijuana dispensary in Boulder, told KGNU’s Tony White that a lack of banking access creates many problems for marijuana businesses.

“It’s an industry that’s under-banked and frankly it’s a multi-billion dollar industry at this point. We paid over 4 and a half million dollars in taxes in the last twelve months and we have a payroll that’s comparable to that and for us to not have a bank account is not really an option.”

Woods says public safety is a major concern for marijuana businesses who are being forced to deal primarily in cash due to a lack of banking access. “If people are aware that there are large amounts of money being held at a specific location, the risk of robbery and violence does increase.” Woods says they are working to have as much of their business be paperless…through the use of debit cards and credit cards… but he says, a lot of their transactions happen in cash.