Health Care

Pot tax money should ride on armored cars, California treasurer says

Pot tax money should ride on armored cars, California treasurer says”

The cash-only marijuana industry needs help safely transferring taxes to the state, and may get it from the California Treasurer's Office in the form of armored couriers who would pick up payments.

The cannabis industry's "reliance on cash paints a target on the back of cannabis operators and makes them and the general public vulnerable to violence and organized crime", he added.

California State Treasurer John Chiang maintains that a lack of banking services that will force much of the cannabis industry to operate in cash and create potential risks to the public.

It's estimated, according to the treasurer's report, that the industry will generate $7 billion sales exceeding $7 billion and $1 billion a year in tax revenues. Officials also recommend expanding cannabis industry's access to banking services under the current law. The county also has one of the highest missing-persons rates in the state, he said. Because the drug remains federally illegal, most banks won't handle money from cannabis businesses, leaving them without access to credit card payments, checking accounts, and an easy way to pay taxes.

With that date in mind, Chiang's 18-member working group - which includes representatives from state agencies, financial groups and industry organizations - has held six public meetings throughout the state in the past 11 months, inviting almost 50 experts to speak and taking public feedback on the issue.

"Based on these guidelines, a handful of financial institutions are serving the cannabis industry in other states and it is probable some will do so in California as well", Chiang said.

In the meantime, Chiang's working group recommends four steps California should take "ASAP".

Banks don't want to run afoul of the federal government, forcing the marijuana industry to largely use cash. As Chiang pointed out, operating mostly in cash means workers in the industry could be targeted by thieves.

That prohibition has prevented banks from working with cannabis businesses, even in the 44 states where its use has been legalized to varying degrees, because of strict anti-money laundering laws and anti-terrorism requirements that banks know certain details about customers. That institution could broadly support underserved groups, including the marijuana industry, or it could narrowly focus just on that industry. Talk of this option has brought out both supporters and skeptics, and previous efforts to make a public bank for marijuana businesses have either been dismissed as too pricey or shut down by regulators.

The solution to opening bank doors to marijuana businesses will be found at the federal level, Chiang said.

Marijuana is still classified as a schedule one drug under federal law, putting it in the same category as heroin with no officially recognized health benefit.

To get insurance, cannabis businesses have turned to the surplus line market, which includes carriers that are approved but not licensed by the state to provide coverage for companies that have been turned down by major licensed insurers.

California will become a lobbyist.


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