DENVER — Should Colorado pot shops be able to use the nation’s banking system? That’s the question put forth to a Federal judge Monday.
It’s one of the marijuana industry’s biggest hurdles.
Pot sales, legal in Colorado, are still illegal federally. Which means for now, they are cash only operations.
“It’s difficult. It’s hard to function,” said Owner of Peak Dispensary, Justin Henderson.
“It’s hard to run a company with a bank account, much less without one,” he said.
Now a state-chartered credit union, built to serve the cannabis and hemp industry is trying to change that.
Monday, in front of a Federal judge, Fourth Corner Credit Union argued to allow pot shops access to the nation’s banking system through the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Kansas City Branch.
“This is not a trial about the legality of marijuana. This is a trial about the ability of the Fed Reserve Branch of Kansas City to choose which state-chartered institutions are allowed in and which are not,” said Fourth Corner Credit Union’s Executive Vice President, Mark Goldfogel.
Goldfogel says in 2016, marijuana related transactions are projected to top $1.2 billion.
“If most of those transactions are forced to be in cash it’s only a matter of time until there is real safety issues. There’s already been a number of robberies,” said Goldfogel.
Because of that, security is on everyone’s mind.
“The idea that there might be a lot of cash. It would be nice to have an account to put it in just to kind of remove that from the equation,”
For Peak Dispensary it’s also about being treated like a legitimated, tax paying, job creating business.
“Having a checking account and baking account to pay your bills and order supplies just like a regular business would be really nice,” Henderson said.
An attorney for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City says granting the credit union a master account would violate Federal law prohibiting the sale of marijuana.
The judge says he will issue a written decision. No timetable for that was given.