One of the biggest hurdles to implementing I-502 in Washington is banking:
Banks fall under the scrutiny of federal regulators such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. And bankers fear punishment if their account holders violate anti-money laundering laws. I’ve also heard that banks are worried about pot-related businesses leasing out space in commercial real estate properties on which banks hold loans, which could limit where marijuana producers or retailers locate.
The pot industry’s banking dilemma is making it harder for state leaders to set up a legal pot industry in Washington. Scott Jarvis, director of Washington’s Department of Financial Institutions, recently went to Washington, D.C., and met with several federal banking regulators seeking clarity. Jarvis left without an answer.
This has long been a problem for medical marijuana businesses and is expected to be just as problematic for the new recreational marijuana businesses in both Washington and Colorado. With the emergence of bitcoins, however, does this provide a workable alternative?
Once considered a nutty idea favored by computer geeks and anti-government types, bitcoin is gaining traction as a legitimate way to buy and sell goods.
True believers say it’s the future of Internet commerce, where the world is united in a common digital currency rather than dollars, euros, yens, pounds or pesos.
Shorter term, bitcoin has become a scorching-hot commodity among speculators who are trading the virtual currency at a record clip in deals worth millions of actual dollars.
I don’t have any well-formed opinions yet about the bitcoin phenomenon, but I’m very curious whether this would be a feasible workaround to the banking problem. I guess the main obstacles would be getting enough customer acceptance and perhaps tracking and paying all the required business taxes, but I certainly haven’t thought this through. Your thoughts?