Medical marijuana businesses in Colorado have been struggling with their state-law mandated financial record-keeping since the last bank in the state to handle MMJ accounts closed those accounts last year.

Now some lawmakers in Colorado are looking to rectify the situation by introducing a bill in the state Senate that would allow medical marijuana businesses to form financial cooperatives similar to credit unions, but the co-ops wouldn’t be backed by federal insurance policies.

Democrat Sen. Pat Steadman and Republican Rep. Tom Massey are co-sponsoring Senate Bill 75, which would allow for the cooperatives and hopefully make it easier for medical marijuana operations to do business.

Robert Friechtel, director of the Medical Marijuana Business Exchange, told The Daily that he estimates nearly half of Colorado’s 700 dispensaries lost their bank accounts in September of 2011. Friechtel went on to tell the The Daily, “Forcing dispensaries to go cash-only is crazy. How can owners safely and successfully run their businesses without any place to deposit money?”

“Senate Bill 75 is a positive step forward for an industry that is crying out for sensible banking solutions,” Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado, a marijuana advocacy group, told The Huffington Post. “Colorado’s tightly regulated medical marijuana businesses need banking that allows them to operate like other state licensed businesses.”

Having nowhere to put their money also creates another problem for businesses: cash on hand. This presents a massive target for thieves who know these places have no recourse but to put large amounts of cash in a safe, usually on-site. They might as well put a sign in the front window that says, “come rob us, you know we have all of our cash right here.”

Of course the main cause of all these problems – as they usually are – is the federal government. Their threats toward federally-backed banks caused the closing of hundreds of legitimate medical cannabis accounts.

So state lawmakers are forced to find a solution for a problem that already had a solution before the feds stuck their noses in.

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- Joe Klare

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