08 Feb 2017
In referendums last year, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine and, most significantly, California voted to legalise marijuana for recreational use.
The states in which recreational marijuana is already legal—Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Alaska, plus the District of Colombia—have, by most accounts, enjoyed a peace dividend, with the change to the law upping tax revenues and reducing pressure on policing.
But the booming marijuana industry faces an unusual setback: banks and other financial institutions are reluctant to handle its money. Because the drug remains illegal at the Federal level, growers and dispensaries are either barred from the banking system entirely or face a disproportionately high cost of business. The alternative—dealing exclusively in cash—is even more problematic, demanding expensive security and incurring a significant risk both of falling victim to fraud and unwittingly committing it.
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