Dear Stoner: Are all pot stores still cash-only? That's kind of annoying.
Dear Shelbie: Super annoying! Because cannabis is still federally illegal, businesses within the industry (and even some ancillary pot companies that serve them) generally can’t find banks or financial institutions that will issue them accounts, loans or lines of credit. Scared of setting themselves up for federal drug charges, virtually every big bank has stayed away from the pot business, making it a largely cash-only industry. Although there are a few small banks and credit unions in legal states that serve pot companies, most dispensaries are stuck: They can’t take credit cards (which go through banks), with an ATM being the best they can do. But who wants to get stuck paying those stupid bank fees?
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Sometimes you’ll find the rare dispensary that’s able to skirt the system, either by applying to a bank under an ambiguous business name or by using a digital, cash-less ATM, which still carries those stupid fees. Enjoy that convenience while it lasts, because those dispensaries always get caught eventually, and the banks drop them.
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There’s a small chance that cannabis banking will get approved at the federal level this year through Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter’s SAFE Banking Act. The measure has strong support in the U.S. House, but the Senate may take more time, which we’re running out of. We’re also running out of patience.
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