As the legalization of medical marijuana use spread across 20 states including the District of Columbia, recreational marijuana use became legal for adults in Washington State and Colorado earlier this year. But under federal law, marijuana use still remains illegal. Creating an unexpected problem and real danger for legal business owners dispensing cannabis; where to put all the money they’re making?
Most banks, fearful of running into federal racketeering charges, have refused to allow marijuana dispensaries to open bank accounts. Leaving businesses legally selling marijuana stuck with large amounts of cash on-hand and nowhere to put it, in addition to becoming prime targets for thieves looking to cash-in on the profits. Many business owners are turning to private security companies like Blue Line Protection Group, which caters to the lawful marijuana industry.
Leo Pavlushkin, a security guard with Blue Line Protection Group and former Russian Special Forces Sniper suits-up with a bullet proof vest and heavy artillery every time he clocks-in on the job. When thinking about the worst that could happen to him while on duty, he replies, “the worst happens . . . I’ve got my glock.”
Even though the Federal Government just issued new guidelines meant to reassure banks and financial intuitions they won’t face legal trouble for doing business with the marijuana industry, banks aren’t convinced.
As long as both the banking industry and legal marijuana businesses are forced to carry and deal with large amounts of cash, security guards like Leo Pavlushkin will continue to have to strap-on the heavy artillery. In the meantime, business owners are hoping that Congress will change the banking laws so that they can keep their money safely in a bank account.