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State wants to help marijuana businesses find an alternative to banks

flickr user Dank Depot

The state is looking for ways to help medical marijuana businesses that are having trouble finding a bank or a credit union.

Rick Johnson chairs the state medical marijuana licensing board. He says most financial institutions won’t work with marijuana-related businesses because the drug remains illegal at the federal level. He says that means the businesses don’t have checking accounts and can’t easily handle electronic transfers.

“I would guess probably over 90 percent is paid in cash. So, how do you get the cash, the part of it that’s tax, how do you get that cash to Treasury,” Johnson said.

The state medical marijuana regulating agency is meeting with vendors that might be able to help. There’s no deadline to get that done. But the first businesses are supposed to be fully licensed to operate in coming weeks.

Andrew Brisbo directs the Michigan Medical Marijuana Regulating Agency. He says the state is looking for vendors that will help the businesses deal with that.

“We’re heading up an evaluation, and an opportunity for companies that provide those services to demonstrate how they’re systems work, and how that might benefit the industry in Michigan,” Brisbo said.

Brisbo says one benefit to the state is this will make it easier for medical marijuana businesses pay their taxes.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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