Banks won’t work with legal pot shops, owner says

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OTAY MESA, Calif. — The owners of a newer medical marijuana dispensary said they are on pace to make millions of dollars in their first year of business, but they're having no luck getting support from banks and insurance companies.

Medical marijuana is legal in San Diego, but dispensary owners said no bank or insurance company will back them.

“We’re projected to make over $2 million our first year in sales,” said A Green Alternative medical marijuana dispensary co-founder Dr. David Blair. “I’m running a legal business and I’m treated as though I’m not.”

A Green Alternative opened in Otay Mesa in March. In four months, they’ve seen an average of 75 patients a day, 7 days a week. Since marijuana is still considered illegal under federal law, Dr. Blair says banks won’t approve loans, give their company bank accounts or process credit cards.

“It’s just a cash nightmare,” said Dr. Blair.

This reported multi-million dollar business pays their employees and vendors in cash and customers have to use an ATM.  Similar to having a savings account under your mattress, the company puts all their cash in a safe with armed guards.

Proposed federal legislation would guarantee banks no hassle from regulators for working with dispensaries, but that’s months away.

Despite the legal hurdles, more legal dispensaries are set to open in the summer and fall.



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