February 10, 2012

SandBox Comments: Colorado News Agency "Colorado’s law-and-order AG blows hot and cold on states’ rights"

Peter Blake with credit to Colorado News Agency:

"So, are Colorado’s medical marijuana dispensaries supposed to bring in satchels full of cash to the Revenue Department in order to pay their taxes?

That’s about what they have to do now, since the state’s banks and credit unions refuse to handle their accounts for fear of federal retribution.

A bill pending in the legislature would enable the dispensaries to set up their own “financial cooperative,” which would let them make deposits, write checks and, basically, carry on like any other business or household with a bank account. It would work like a credit union, open only to members, but it wouldn’t be allowed to use that term.

The bill would permit the co-op to seek private deposit insurance, since federal deposit insurance agencies like the FDIC won’t help.

“A lack of banking leads to 1) decrease in public safety, particularly for patients, employees and business owners, and 2) less accountability to local, state and federal tax collectors,” says Michael Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.

But Senate Bill 75 is opposed by Attorney General John Suthers, among others, and he or a deputy is likely to testify against it when it comes up in the Senate Finance Committee on Valentine’s Day.

The last financial institution to handle medical marijuana accounts, Colorado Springs Bank, bailed out of that business last September.  Like the bigger banks that dropped them earlier, it was afraid of retribution from the Drug Enforcement Agency, which could prosecute it for money laundering.

Suthers, said a spokesman, will oppose the bill for reasons outlined in a letter he received from U.S. Attorney John Walsh last spring. That letter reminded him that “the prosecution of individuals and organizations involved in the trade of any illegal drugs and the disruption of drug trafficking organizations is a core priority” of the Justice Department...." (Read more?  Click title)

"Unapologetically pursuing and tracking patterns within the news others make since 2010."

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