Tag: cash

Uruguay Setting up New Cannabis Shops After Challenge by Banks

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Uruguay’s government announced Wednesday that it is changing its retail system for legalized marijuana because banks are making it difficult for pharmacies to sell cannabis as planned.

At least three pharmacies have decided not to sell cannabis after warnings by banks.

Banks are refusing to deal with companies linked to cannabis in order to follow international financial laws that ban receiving money tied to the drug, pharmacists and officials said.

To avoid the problems faced by pharmacies, Uruguay will set up shops to sell marijuana for cash, said government official Juan Andres Roballo.

In July, marijuana went on sale at 16 pharmacies under a 2013 law that made Uruguay the first nation to legalize a cannabis market covering the entire chain from plants to purchase. Since then, at least three pharmacies have decided not to sell cannabis after warnings by banks.

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Running a business without being able to bank is tough in Uruguay. Among other things, Uruguayan law bans cash or check payments for employees and requires that salaries be paid by direct deposit.

Some U.S. marijuana retailers in states that have legalized sales have encountered similar banking difficulties as the drug remains illegal on a federal level.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Hawaii Says It’s 1st State to Go Cashless for Cannabis Sales

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii said Tuesday that it will be the first state to require marijuana sales to be handled without cash, saying it wanted to avoid robberies and other crimes targeting dispensaries.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii won’t be allowed to accept cash beginning Oct. 1 and will require people to use a debit payment app instead. The app is already an option for marijuana transactions in six states, including California and Colorado.

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Many marijuana businesses use cash because banks fear cannabis money could expose them to legal trouble from the U.S. government, which regulates banking and still bans marijuana.

The debit app called CanPay uses a Colorado-based credit union to facilitate transactions. Some mainland credit unions have opened accounts for cannabis businesses.

Hawaii was among the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2000 but the state didn’t grant licenses to any dispensaries until last year. Maui Grown Therapies became the first to open last month after the state Department of Health gave it approval to begin sales.

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department issued guidelines to help banks avoid federal prosecution when dealing with cannabis businesses in states where the drug is legal.

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But most banks don’t see those rules as a shield against charges that could include aiding drug trafficking. And they say the rules are difficult to follow, placing the burden on banks to determine if a cannabis business is operating within the law.

There is also uncertainty over how the Trump administration will react. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he wants to crack down on the legal marijuana industry.

Credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard say they won’t allow their cards to be used to buy cannabis or marijuana-related products.

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Patients who don’t own smartphones will have to create CanPay accounts with an email address and personal identification number. Patients will be able buy cannabis by logging on to their accounts with computer tablets at the dispensaries.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Inside a Nerve-Rattling Trip to Pay Cannabis Taxes in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jerred Kiloh’s eyes narrowed as he checked his mirror again. The black Chevy SUV with tinted windows was still behind him.

It had been hanging off Kiloh’s bumper ever since he nosed out of the parking lot behind his medical-marijuana dispensary with $40,131.88 in cash in the trunk of his hatchback.

Kiloh was unarmed, on his way to City Hall to make a monthly tax payment, and managing only stop-and-start progress in the midday traffic. He was afraid of one thing above all else: getting robbed.

That fear is a constant part of doing business in California’s flourishing medical cannabis industry, in which transactions are conducted mostly in cash, sometimes in stunningly large amounts.

The emerging marketplace with a projected $7 billion value has a potentially crippling flaw: Many people who work in it can’t use a bank.

“The thing I need the least right now is to have to go through any sort of money disappearing,” Kiloh said.

On Jan. 1, recreational pot will become legal in California, creating what could be the world’s largest legitimate marijuana economy. It comes more than two decades after the state gave its blessing to medical cannabis.

But the emerging marketplace with a projected $7 billion value has a potentially crippling flaw: Many people who work in it can’t use a bank. Banks don’t want the risks of doing business with companies whose product remains illegal under federal law.

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So while the sneaker shop next door to Kiloh’s storefront on Ventura Boulevard can send a check to City Hall to cover its taxes, or wire the money from a laptop, Kiloh has to make a stress-filled, 15-mile (24-kilometer) freeway drive each month to downtown Los Angeles.

California is to marijuana what Iowa is to corn, and what Kentucky is to bourbon — the nation’s bud basket, its heartland for production. The transformation of such a vast illegal economy into a legal one hasn’t been witnessed since the end of Prohibition in 1933.

The state expects to collect $1 billion in new tax revenue annually from pot within a few years. In L.A. — which is already estimated to have anywhere from 1,000 to 1,700 medical marijuana dispensaries, only about 200 of which paid city taxes in 2016 — the take is projected at $50 million next year alone.

However, governments will almost certainly miss out on money without an easy, secure way for businesses to pay. With no bank records, it will be harder to regulators to track funds and identify shady operators. And those who operate by the book will be undercut by those who don’t.

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Without banks, “everyone loses,” said Nicole Howell Neubert, a marijuana industry lawyer.

Kiloh, a 40-year-old with a graying mohawk and a degree in economics, counts 15 years in the pot industry as a seller and cultivator and is a partner and business manager at a San Francisco dispensary and the owner of the one in Los Angeles.

In the absence of a bank, Kiloh has become his own.

Kiloh avoids arriving at the same time each day and staggers the times he leaves. He goes in and out different doors. He keeps an eye on cars parked around his shop.

Twist and turn through a warren of rooms inside his shop, go through a door with a keypad lock, and you will come to a closet-like space that contains twin steel vaults, standing head-high. The walls around them are reinforced with steel.

Overhead, more than 50 cameras scan his offices and hallways and keep watch outside the building as well. An armed guard stands at the door to the sales floor.

On a typical day, $15,000 can change hands in his dispensary, where a steady stream of customers pick from shelves stocked with 700 products, from fragrant buds and perfectly rolled joints to cannabis-infused lip balm and potent concentrates known as “shatter” that look like thin sheets of amber glass.

For Kiloh, the cash is a daily hassle. It needs to be counted repeatedly to safeguard against loss. State and local taxes must be set aside and stored, sometimes for a month or more. When vendors show up, they get paid in cash, too.

“When now everyone makes payments through their cellphone, it’s tough to see that I’m left to the archaic version of counting money,” he said.

With all the cash on hand — he grossed $4 million last year — crime is a gnawing fear. His dispensary on a bustling commercial strip has been robbed twice — once by thieves breaking in through the roof.

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The Los Angeles Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for statistics on crimes against marijuana dispensaries, and many cases are believed to go unreported anyway, since many businesses are loath to go to the police.

Last year, though, a dispensary owner shot and wounded two armed men during a holdup in the Los Angeles suburbs. And a security guard at a dispensary was killed in an attempted robbery in Aurora, Colorado, another one of the nine states to legalize recreational pot.

To keep criminals guessing, Kiloh avoids arriving at the same time each day and staggers the times he leaves. He goes in and out different doors. He keeps an eye on cars parked around his shop.

Carrying $40,131.88 in cash in his shoulder bag, Kiloh enters the office of finance tax and permit division at Los Angeles City Hall. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Once a month, Kiloh telephones to make arrangements to drop off his tax payment at the city Finance Department, which gets 6 percent of his gross revenue. They want to know he’s coming — it’s dangerous for them, too. The agency has seen bags of cash from pot businesses as large as $300,000 come through the door.

His journey to the tax office starts at a windowless back room at his shop, where stacks of $20 bills flip through the counting machine at his desk with the whir-slap-whir-slap of a weed-whacker.

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He and his staff then wrap the bills into neat $2,000 bundles and wedge them into a long cardboard box, which is then covered in plain paper and stuffed into a shoulder bag that goes into the trunk.

From the moment he pulls out of his parking lot, he is watching, assessing.

“I find myself looking in my rear-view mirror hundreds of more times than I usually would in just normal traffic, making sure that I’m not being followed,” Kiloh said.

“That’s what a lot of this industry has been about: Just stay under the radar, and that’s your best defense. That’s your best kind of safety.”

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It was on Kiloh’s drive to City Hall in late June that he noticed the ominous-looking Chevy. He watched it intently, taking note of the man behind the wheel — glasses, mid-40s to 50s — as he leaned into the accelerator.

Eventually, the Chevy disappeared, but Kiloh wasn’t home free yet.

Exiting the freeway, he tried to enter a parking lot near City Hall but was turned away, forcing him farther down the block.

Once inside a garage, he looped around until he found a spot near a stairwell. Lifting his satchel from his trunk, he scurried toward the door.

Kiloh spotted a police officer walking across the plaza — an instant source of comfort.

“I try to not stay in confined places like an elevator, so I’d rather take the standard stairs, plus the standard stairs have video cameras,” he said.

The steps opened to a sun-soaked plaza teeming with people. With the cash over his shoulder, he made his way briskly toward City Hall, his head swiveling.

“It’s tough when people make eye contact with you,” he said. “There is always the fear of what do they know?”

Kiloh spotted a police officer walking across the plaza — an instant source of comfort.

Finally at the granite-faced tower, Kiloh darted up the steps and slipped behind a pair of glass-and-wood doors. He emerged about 20 minutes later, his tax bill paid, and drew in a slow, deep breath.

“You just feel the relief,” he said, “to know that I don’t have to look over my shoulder.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.