DENVER (AP) — Medical marijuana is legal in 17 states, but the industry has a decidedly black-market aspect — it’s mostly cash-only.
Banks won’t touch pot money. The drug is illegal under federal law, and processing transactions or investments with pot money puts federally insured banks at risk of drug-racketeering charges.
In Colorado, state lawmakers are attempting an end-run around the federal ban with a bill that would create the nation’s first state cooperative financial institution for dispensaries and growers to allow them to store and borrow money.
But the marijuana co-op proposal faces big obstacles. Any marijuana money is subject to federal seizure, even when it’s legal in a state and part of a state agency. Other marijuana states are watching to see whether Colorado succeeds in sidestepping federal banking obstacles.