Banks won't touch Colorado pot cash

A bag of marijuana being prepared for sale sits next to a money jar at BotanaCare in Northglenn,...

A bag of marijuana being prepared for sale sits next to a money jar at BotanaCare in Northglenn, Colorado in this file photo taken December 31, 2013. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files)

Marie-Joelle Parent, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

DENVER — U.S. banks won't do business with newly legalized marijuana shops in Colorado, forcing pot sellers to stuff their safes with drug money that could be enticing to thieves.

Several marijuana shops in Colorado told QMI Agency that the bank freeze-out is creating serious security problems, even as business has flourished.

Retailers have sold $14 million worth of marijuana since legislators legalized the drug on Jan. 1.


Danielle Hackett prepares marijuana buds for sale at BotanaCare in Northglenn, Colorado December 31, 2013. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

Click here to see photos of the first day of pot sales in Colorado

Toni Fox, who owns the 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, has sold $500,000 of pot even though her shop was open just three days a week at the start of the year.

Since marijuana sales are still banned at the federal level, shop owners and growers can't open bank accounts or get loans. They've been running cash businesses, piling stacks of bills into safes.

"Even armoured trucks refuse to come get the money because they're protected by federal insurance companies," Fox told QMI.

"I have to ask my employees to transfer money in different cars at different times of the day, and take different paths so as not to attract thieves."

Fox said she lives in fear of being robbed.

"Many women own shops in this industry," she said. "We have to have security guards around the clock."

Matt Brown, whose travel agency My 420 Tours directs tourists to marijuana shops, says more money has created more problems.

"It's the biggest logistical problem right now," he said. "The shops accumulate piles of greenbacks and don't even have enough space in their vaults."

Even though Brown's company doesn't sell pot, Paypal recently closed his account because of his links to the industry.

The U.S. Treasury Department recently issued guidelines to banks, explaining that they're allowed to work with Colorado's marijuana companies. The directive hasn't changed anything.


Photos