CannaBiz: MMCs looking to start a bank 

Take my money

Ah, to bank: the dream of medical marijuana folks across the state. TCF Bank didn't work out; Colorado Springs State Bank bluffed big, then folded when internal worry over federal interest began to rise.

So what's an industry to do?

"We're working with some folks to try and put together a credit union here in Colorado," says Tanya Garduno, president of the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council. "So that we can have a place to have a bank, and processing, and do real bank things where we don't have to be afraid of being kicked out."

Specifics on the recently conceived plan are sketchy, but Garduno says she's working with some lawyers around town, and a merchant services company in California to get through all the details. Center owners are using the merchant services company to process electronic monetary transactions until everything's official, a status that can't come soon enough.

"We thought we were secure at Springs State Bank, and then all of a sudden it was a huge, abrupt change," Garduno says. "So I don't know if anyone's gonna feel really safe and secure until we have our own space, that we're all members of."

No limit

It's almost anticlimactic, after all the drama that's followed the eight-member advisory board: a protest by respected MMJ advocates Robert Chase, Laura Kriho and Kathleen Chippi; allegations of lies and stonewalling the release of group information; submission of open-records requests. But the Marijuana Per Se workgroup has voted to not recommend any limit to the amount of THC allowed in a Colorado driver's blood.

What the Drug Policy Task Force (the body the workgroup advised) and, further up the ladder, the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice will do with the non-recommendation is anybody's guess. But at least workgroup member Michael Elliott is firm on the why.

"There isn't a consensus on the scientific research that a five-nanogram standard is a fair standard," says Elliott, a Denver attorney with the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, and former head of last year's pro-MMJ campaign to keep it from being banned in El Paso County. "The other argument we've been making, as well, is that basically a per-se law is unnecessary. And we're arguing that based on the fact that prosecutors have a 90 percent conviction rate over the last four years."

To see what happens, drop into the CCJJ's 12:30 p.m. meeting on Friday, Sept. 9 — at 15350 S. Golden Road, in Golden — where they'll consider whether or not to refer a bill to the Colorado Legislature.


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