Developing pot industry in Colorado causes regulations to adjust

Feb 26, 2014

A medical dispensary in Denver.
Credit CPR / Irvin Coffee

Do federal regulations allow banks to deal with marijuana dispensaries? And how high is too high to drive?

These are two of the questions pressed by a developing recreational marijuana industry in Colorado.

Thanks to an uncertain federal stance on banking concerning a business which is illegal under Federal law, most marijuana dispensaries, though legal under state law, must either do business entirely in cash or hide the true identity of their business from the banks they use, Colorado Public Radio reports.

This is a problem for dispensaries, which must either keep large amounts of cash on hand, or face frequent closures of accounts at banks which often sniff out the true nature of the business being conducted upon receiving currency that literally smells of marijuana.

Earlier this month, federal officials released guidelines for what information banks must disclose to authorities if they do business with marijuana dispensaries in states where recreational or medicinal marijuana are legal. Most banks are taking a cautious approach and say these guidelines do not amount to the legal protections they need to be assured their business is safe, according to The Denver Post.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Department of Transportation plans to use about $400,000 in federal highway funds to kickstart a public awareness campaign focused on driving while high.

State law on impaired driving has not quite caught up with the times after legalization in Colorado. While law enforcement officers commonly have on hand the technology to determine whether a suspected drunk driver is above the legal limit, judging whether an impaired driver is above the legal limit of 5 nanograms of active THC in the blood is a bit more difficult, Colorado Public Radio reports.

Additionally, state law-mandated interlock devices for “persistent drunk drivers” with suspended licenses, which detect alcohol use, do absolutely nothing for other drugs.