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The Biggest Reason that Banking Reform for the Cannabis Industry is So Vital

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AP

For the first time since legal marijuana shops opened to the public (ages 21+ of course), there was a robbery that ended in the death of a security guard. Travis Mason, a twenty-four year old former Marine showed up for another night of work – but unfortunately, he never got to go home because he was fatally shot while the Denver dispensary he was hired to guard was robbed. As much as I hate to say it – we all knew something like this would happen eventually, especially given the cash-only nature of the business.

Dispensaries, cultivation facilities and more are decked out with security systems and have some very specific requirements in some states – all aimed at keeping black market criminals out. Not only would it be extremely easy to get sell the product without it ever being traced (it’s a plant after all, and seed-to-sale systems require a barcode of sorts on the planters, bags, etc. to keep track of it all), but any business that makes sales directly (especially dispensaries) will likely have a large amount of cash on the property at any given time.

“We’ve been saying for a long time that if we don’t fix the banking issue, somebody’s going to get killed. Unfortunately that appears to have happened,” said Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

It’s extremely sad for Travis Mason’s family and friends – but it’s not too late to ensure that there is a much lower chance that this will happen again. There is no way to completely put an end to potential robberies – there is always going to be robberies, in any industry – but the risk is significantly higher when you are working with large quantities of something deemed so valuable. There have been comparisons in this case to both jewelry stores and banks, both of which are targeted by career criminals.

Not even a week ago, we published an article on how the Senate created an Amendment to the 2017 budget that would have protected banks working with legitimate marijuana businesses. Of course, even though it is not permanent (and anything not permanent banks are weary of) it would still have been a start. Unfortunately, even though it seemed like a shoe-in, a very common sense amendment, the House of Representatives did not end up approving it.

“Frankly, I’m frustrated by this terrible decision, and the American people should be, too,” (Representative Danny) Heck said in a statement. (Washington) “We’ve been pushing for this common-sense change for more than three years now, received bipartisan support … and now all the sudden this issue is labeled a ‘poison pill.’ ”

It’s discouraging to see the House turn down an amendment that would truly make a difference and potentially save lives as well as revenue. Currently there is no data available surrounding robberies of retail cannabis shops in Colorado – this is for many reasons; for one, robberies are not classified by the type of business and also because the shops simply don’t want to advertise the dangerous end of working in the industry. There are ways to protect against this sort of thing from happening – and even if our government doesn’t agree with states’ choices, their priority should be keeping citizens safe no matter what.

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