DENVER (CBS4)– The marijuana industry in Colorado is calling the passage of a bill by the House of Representatives, “a magic moment” in their bid to be allowed to use banks. Right now the pot business is run on cash because pot remains illegal under federal law.
It’s not just a matter for the business owners, but also their workers.
Amy Somsen has what she considers excellent employment. She’s assistant manager at the Lit
Dispensary near Empower Field at Mile High Stadium.
But since marijuana remains illegal under federal law when she went to get an auto loan she was
turned down repeatedly.
“I had to call eight different banks to get a loan for my car even though I have been in a good stable job for two years,” she told CBS4’S Rick Sallinger.
Bruce Nassau, the owner of Lit dispensary and a member of the Marijuana Industry Group board, said he suggested such legislation several years ago to Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat representing District 7, who stewarded it through the House. Nassau says this bill is common sense.
“Sitting on all kinds of cash is extremely dangerous particularly when you include cannabis in the scenario as well,” said Nassau.
Marijuana businesses employ heavily armed security firms to move around that cash. Most notable was the 2016 murder of Travis Mason while working as a security guard at an Aurora dispensary. There is now a $50,000 reward for information in his killing.
Banks remain reluctant to deal with the pot business until when and if the bill becomes law.
Somsen recalls what bankers would tell her, “We could all be arrested so they don’t want to play with the legality they don’t want their name on a loan with their bank or anything like that.”
The House is banking on pot, next comes the U.S. Senate. If passed there the bill would then go to Pres. Donald Trump for his signature if he so chooses. Despite bi-partisan support in the House, it’s not a done deal yet.