When it arrives in New York, the medical marijuana industry will be a nearly all-cash business.
New York’s five companies licensed to grow and sell medical marijuana under the Compassionate Care Act must grapple with the security, safety, and legal challenges of dealing in cash because they can’t keep it in banks in the same way other businesses do.
Federally regulated banks are often unwilling to work with clients whose money comes from the business of medical marijuana, the legality of which varies state to state. This is in spite of a 2014 statement by the Justice and Treasury Departments that would allow banks to serve state-licensed marijuana businesses. Licensees, dispensary employees, patients, and other affiliated vendors are therefore barred from using credit or debit cards, or holding bank accounts that contain money made from cannabis. In other states with medical marijuana, the payroll and all business transactions often go down in cash. Thousands and thousands of pounds of cash, sometimes in duffel bags.
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