Banks Launder Billions Yet Snub Colorado Pot Dealers
|January 23, 2014||Posted by Staff under Financial|
This 2014 excerpt of the Drug Policy Alliance Blog, Jan 17, is by Avinash Tharoor. It also appeared on AlterNet.
The illegal drug trade accounts for around eight percent of all international trade.
Legal marijuana business in Colorado has proven to be highly lucrative, with $5 million made in the first week of 2014. Several Colorado legislators have made a bipartisan appeal to the federal government, requesting clear guidelines for marijuana businesses’ regulation within the banking sector.
Despite liberalization of marijuana laws in Colorado and elsewhere, the plant remains illegal at the federal level; this means that banks won’t open accounts for marijuana businesses, so the majority of their transactions are cash-only. The movement of such large amounts of cash can be highly dangerous for business owners, and troublesome for both customers and tax collectors.
Banks have avoided allowing these new companies to open accounts, ironically, for the fear of being penalized, or implicated as launderers.
Hypocrisy? Bank of America, Western Union, and JP Morgan, are among the institutions allegedly involved in the drug trade. HSBC has admitted its laundering role, and evaded criminal prosecution by paying a fine of almost $2 billion.
The lack of imprisonment of any bankers involved is indicative of the hypocritical nature of the drug war; an individual selling a few grams of drugs can face decades in prison, while a group of people that profit from the trade of tons escape incarceration.
Ed. Notes: It might be up to Colorado pot dealers to make big banks legal-dealer-friendly.