Elizabeth Warren and her caped crusaders are trying to save the weed industry

Elizabeth Warren and her caped crusaders are trying to save the weed industry

VicesJanuary 05, 2017 By Brian Frederick

Pot is making truckloads of cash in the 28 states (and D.C.) that now have some form of legislation to imbibe the plant. That’s great news for budding business owners who are risking life and limb to pioneer a new industry (even if they have trouble turning profits with massive tax obligations).

The problem? Unless you’re ducking the system, it’s all done in cash, and that’s causing huge problems and safety issues for the business owners who just want to be legit like everyone else.

It might not be like this for long, however, if Elizabeth Warren and her merry band of caped crusaders get their way.

Warren — along with several other U.S. senators — recently helped pen a letter to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in an effort to get a bit of fire under the asses of those in charge. It cites the immediate need for banking structure considering there are now more than half of the states in the union allowing the sale of cannabis on some level after the recent election.

“(In) these states, the majority of legal marijuana businesses, and businesses that provide services to them, are all but barred from participating in the financial system,” reads the letter, which also includes Sen. Bernie Sander as a co-signer. “As a result, many legal businesses are forced to operate in cash, which jeopardizes community safety, limits economic growth and greatly expands the opportunity for tax fraud.”

Less than 3 percent of the 12,000 federally regulated banks and credit unions in America have come in to help the industry. It's a reason why people like Michael Julian, president and CEO of MPSI Security (a private security firm created in response to the cannabis baking crisis) exists in the first place.

“When (companies) try to transport their cash themselves, they'll use someone with no security training and no idea how to avoid a criminal act,” Julian previously told Rooster in a related story. “They’ll send a 20-year-old girl off in a 12-year-old Honda Accord to move tens of thousands of dollars. It’s extremely dangerous for the business and even worse, dangerous for the employees.”

As far as Warren and her co-signers are concerned, sure it’s a safety issue, but it’s also an easier way to keep track of the $7 billion industry and undermines efforts to turn those loose twenties into something illegal.

“You make sure that people are really paying their taxes,” she said. “You know that the money is not being diverted to some kind of criminal enterprise. And it’s just a plain old safety issue. You don’t want people walking in with guns and masks and saying, ‘Give me all your cash.’”

Whatever the case may be, something has to happen and happen quick. In January of 2018, California is set to begin its sale of recreational weed, an industry that is expected to balloon to over $1 billion in sales during its first year by California’s Department of Finance — a number that will quickly rival Colorado's $1.3 billion in sales during 2016.

Your move, feds.