Thanks to recreational legalization in Colorado and Washington, the U.S. marijuana industry exploded from $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion in one year. But now, businesses making hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars a week are facing a serious problem: There's nowhere to stash all the money.
Most banks are still afraid to take money from marijuana-related businesses because of the severe penalties attached to money laundering charges. So while Congress and the Obama administration took steps to legalize banking for marijuana-related businesses last year by ostensibly shielding them from money laundering prosecution if they were to do business with dispensaries operating within state laws, many financial institutions have not forgotten the lessons of 2011, when an administration that said it wouldn't raid state-compliant medical marijuana dispensaries did just that.
That's where companies like Blue Line Protection Group enter. Launched shortly after Colorado and Washington voted to legalize recreational marijuana, Blue Line provides what they call a "suite of services" to dispensary owners: assistance navigating the maze of state, local, and federal regulations, protection and delivery of the weed, protection of the massive piles of cash, and delivery of said cash for payment to appropriate government agencies. That's right, they deliver piles of (federally) illegal drug money directly to the IRS and watch as the agents count it.
"We go so far as to even return the receipts back to our customers," says Ricky Bennett, vice president of operations at Blue Line.
Watch Reason TV's profile of Blue Line Protection group above for a glimpse inside an industry that's growing so quickly that the government and other entrenched interests can't keep up.
Approximately 4 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Music by Zero Page and BoxCat Games. Scroll down for downloadable versions of this video.