Washington Break-Ins Reinforce Cannabis Banking Concerns

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With a surplus of cash and cannabis products always on hand, dispensary locations are prime targets for robbery. Washington state saw a number of cannabis shop break-ins in 2017 and the trend has continued in 2018, reinforcing concerns about having a cash-only industry and the lack of banking options for cannabis companies.

On April 5, the front door of retail shop The Highway Seven in Tacoma was smashed, but owners believe that security bars and the activated alarm scared away potential thieves. In late March, four thieves rammed a stolen Ford Taurus into the front of Have a Heart’s Greenwood location, pillaging shelves and making off with an unknown quantity of products. In September 2017, armed robbers entered THC Connections in Everett, WA, rattling employees and making off with cash. Just five days earlier, at a retail cannabis shop in White Center, an employee was shot and injured during a robbery. Three shops were broken into in Kitsap County in August 2017, but thieves were caught after a police chase.

Few banks risk working with cannabis

The Washington Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) regulates state-chartered banks in Washington. According to Roberta Hollinshead, Director of Banks at the DFI, there are only six state-chartered financial institutions — three banks and three credit unions — that will open cannabis accounts in the entire state.

“Cash-only businesses are high risk,” said Hollinshead. “Banks have to add additional resources to their compliance departments for monitoring cash-intensive and high-risk businesses. This is likely a deterrent for some financial institutions.”

Originally Published on www.ganjapreneur.com

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