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myFOXphoenix: Banks Refusing to Work With Marijuana Dispensaries

Banks Refusing to Work With Marijuana Dispensaries
from myFOX-phoenix, Sep-tember 20, 2011

PHOENIX – Medical marijuana is big business in the U.S. — bringing in $1.5 billion.

But in Arizona, the entire program is really on hold because dispensaries cannot grow or sell marijuana — and now, many banks across the country are cutting all ties and have stopped doing business with dispensaries.

More than 13,000 people in Arizona are approved to use medical marijuana, and the state health department says about 70 people daily are applying for medical marijuana cards.

But they won’t be able to go to a dispensary and buy it anytime soon. The state has placed a hold on all dispensaries, and now in Colorado, most banks have stopped doing business with dispensaries.

“We are a legitimate business, and we need the opportunity to do our business legitimately — with banking,” said Sue Harank, of Alpine Herbal Wellness.

Many banks say they are afraid they’ll be prosecuted.

The Department of Justice recently issued a memo. Part of it says “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug, and the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime.”

The federal government is enforcing what’s called the Controlled Substances Act.

“The Controlled Substance Act is meant to stop drugs from Mexico coming into our population. We are here manufacturing our own medicine for Colorado patients. I don’t think the two coincide,” said Jill LaMoureux, a medical marijuana distributor.

For now, patients and caregivers in our state are allowed to grow their own marijuana, but they can’t buy it until this dispute between the federal and local government is settled.


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