Seeking to move marijuana businesses away from cash-only operations, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation Friday that tries to establish the world’s first financial system for the newly legal industry in Colorado.
The legislation seeks to form a network of uninsured cooperatives designed to give pot businesses a way to access basic banking services like checking. But approval from the Federal Reserve remains a hurdle.
Out of fear of violating federal law, banks don’t work with marijuana businesses. That has led to concerns that the burgeoning marijuana industry could be a target for robberies.
Mike Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, said a member of his organization was robbed a few days ago. The cash-only model has become stressful for businesses and their employees, he said.
“We don’t a need a vault. What we need is checking,” he said. “We’re looking for a way to take cash out of the businesses.”
Colorado became the first state to allow recreational pot sales on Jan. 1. Denver Police issued a crime alert Thursday warning of a plot to rob marijuana couriers, those who take dispensary proceeds to pay taxes or bills.