New Year, But Still No Banking: Marijuana Industry Expected to Generate $2.34 Billion in Revenues Without Access to Banking Services

Widespread calls for reform continue as legal adult-use sales launch in Colorado with press conference and first legal sale event tomorrow, January 1 at 7:30 am MT (details below)

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| Source: National Cannabis Industry Association

DENVER, COLO., Dec. 31, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Following more than a year of planning by regulators, legislators, and entrepreneurs, the world's first legal sale of regulated marijuana for social use will take place in Denver, Colorado on January 1, 2014. This sale will kick off a year in which the legal cannabis industries are expected to generate $2.34 billion in revenues, tens of thousands of jobs, and hundreds of millions in new tax revenue. In addition to the launch of adult cannabis sales in Colorado and Washington, four states will implement safe access to medical cannabis through regulated markets and countless others are expected to reform marijuana laws leading to legal, regulated sales. Despite the sizable economic impact of the legal cannabis industry, owners and operators struggle daily with the operational and safety challenges presented by the lack of access to basic banking services such as checking and savings accounts.

Toni Fox, the owner and operator of 3-D Cannabis Center, where the first legal sale of marijuana for adult use will take place (see details below), counts herself as fortunate to have secure money-handling options, but has fears nonetheless. "As a woman business owner, I cannot help but be concerned about the safety and security threats caused by outdated federal banking regulations," said Fox. "The widespread perception that cannabis retailers hold large amounts of cash, despite top-notch security and monitoring, creates an inherent danger for businesses owners, employees, and communities alike."

"Members of Congress, state regulators, community leaders, cannabis business professionals, and even many local banks are calling for reform to the absurd interpretations of law that inhibit banking services for cannabis-related businesses," added Betty Aldworth, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. "There is absolutely no justifiable reason to allow this threat to public safety to continue in those states where the regulated sale of marijuana has been made legal. A lack of access to banking services is, quite frankly, the single most dangerous thing about the legal sale of marijuana for medical or social use. It is long past time for FinCEN and the Justice Department to catch up with the American public and answer the call for safe, regulated markets by allowing banking services.

Leaders of the campaign that regulated marijuana in Colorado will gather January 1 at 3-D (Denver's Discreet Dispensary) — a licensed retail marijuana store with on-site cultivation facility — to recognize the first-ever legal marijuana sales to adults. A news conference with the owner of 3-D will be held at 7:30 a.m. MT, and the first sale will take place at 8 a.m. MT.

WHAT: First-ever retail marijuana sales to adults and news conference with leaders of the campaign that legalized regulated marijuana in Colorado
WHEN: Wednesday, January 1, news conference at 7:30 a.m. MT; first sale at 8 a.m. MT
WHERE: 3D Cannabis Center, 4305 Brighton Blvd., Denver
WHO: Betty Aldworth, Yes on 64 advocacy director, National Cannabis Industry Association deputy director
Mason Tvert, Yes on 64 co-director, Marijuana Policy Project communications director
Brian Vicente, Yes on 64 co-director, Sensible Colorado executive director
Toni Fox, owner of 3-D Cannabis Center
Sean Azzariti, first customer, Denver veteran with PTSD

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only organization representing cannabis-related businesses at the national level. NCIA promotes the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry and works toward a favorable social, economic, and legal environment for that industry in the United States.

Betty Aldworth
Deputy Director
National Cannabis Industry Association
888-683-5650