It has been almost eight years since Colorado approved Constitutional Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state. After the ruling in Colorado, 28 other states and the District of Columbia followed suit, allowing the medicinal or recreational use of marijuana for adults. Of course, these local laws are in direct opposition to The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. This is the Act that prohibits the manufacturing, import, possession, and use of marijuana and other narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, and other chemicals is regulated.
Under the parameters of the CSA, marijuana is a Schedule I drug and “has a high potential for abuse.” The Act goes on to say, “[marijuana] has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug under medical supervision.”
The most significant tangible consequence of the conflict between local ordinances and the federal law is that legalized marijuana companies are unable to use the federal banking system. Therefore, marijuana businesses are, for the most part, cash-only enterprises. This makes it difficult to get initial funding, manage employee salaries, procure loans for expansion, and handle the day-to-day operating expenses of the business.
Because marijuana businesses are cash-only, the $50 billion marijuana industry is rife with stories of business people hauling duffel bags filled with cash. This leaves them as sitting targets for robberies. Steve Deangelo, the CEO of Harborside Health, one of largest cannabis businesses in the United States said, "There are thousands [of cannabis businesses] in the United States now, and all of them are carrying around tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. If something isn't done to change the situation, it's, in my opinion, just a matter of time before we see a tragedy."
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