My friend Harry was in the neighborhood.
I had just made a pot of coffee and invited him to share some with me.
I opened a bakery box. "I have some day old doughnuts,"
"No thanks" said my friend, "I have to watch my blood sugar and doughnuts are not on my menu."
My wife, Claudia, was in the next room ironing. Stuck her head in the room and said: "I can't quite hear everything you're talking about, but if you're concerned about blood sugar, I just happen to have some pre-cut apple slices. "
Harry nodded "Sounds good to me."
Claudia served us some apple slices and then went back to her ironing.
Harry grinned, "I think we're going to have some problems."
"How so?" I asked
"I read that you're going to have some legal pot stores in your town and in Scappoose."
I scratched my head. "I seem to recall reading or hearing something about a store in Scappoose. I think it's going to be on the same block as the Tobacco and Liquor store."
Harry nodded. "We may be having some problems."
I looked puzzled. "Why do you think that there'll be problems? Come July 1st, recreational as well as medical pot will be legal in Oregon."
Harry shook his head. "It has nothing to do with it being legal. There are still federal laws against it and that alone can create problems."
Harry refilled his cup. "Under Federal law, Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug. It's still in the same class of drugs as heroin. In 1970 Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, making it illegal for financial institutions to take proceeds from marijuana sales.
Let me spell it out, banks and credit unions won't be able to take deposits from stores that sell pot.
Not only will these stores be prevented from depositing their money in a bank, but they also won't be able to accept credit or debit cards. Even Paypal, because of money laundering rules, won't be able to be used. Having a lot of cash around can create some real security problems. It's also hard to pay bills if you can't write a check."
I took a couple of Harry's apple slices. "I thought I read something about a Presidential memo to the US Attorney General giving the banks permission to take legal pot money. Didn't the Justice department say that banks can provide financial services to legal sellers of pot?"
Harry shook his head. "The banks don't see things that way.
There is a difference between a law and a memo. Until Congress passes a law saying that it's okay for legal pot sellers to use bank services, none of the big federally chartered banks are going to touch pot money."
I nodded. "I can see where a lot of loose cash could be a problem. Not only is there a security problem, but when you deal entirely in cash, there isn't a paper trail. You would think that Congress would act, so money could be tracked for taxation purposes."
Harry swallowed his last apple slice; "I remember reading that there are 23 states plus the District of Columbia, that allow legal pot in some form. Right now there are over 2000 retail shops and medical dispensaries and more will probably appear as we see laws being changed. Congress had better do something soon if they want to be able to tax our budding pot industry. "
I smiled "I kind of feel like Carl Sagan when I think about the billions and billions of dollars being generated by the pot business…"
My wife, Claudia popped her head back into the room. "What's this about a pot business? I sure hope that they open a store close by. I have a Norfolk Island pine and I'd like a large clay three foot diameter pot…"
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