With an estimated projection of over $6 billion in revenue, there has been little to no access to marijuana banking. Currently, California’s marijuana industry stands as a cash-only market.

State officials are wrestling with how to move the industry’s money out of bags and into something more secure and stable as California leans toward a recreational marijuana marketplace next year when cannabis will be available for sale to adults without medical marijuana cards.

The obvious plan would be to have a bank account, yet that’s unlikely to be happening anytime in the near future, Deputy Treasurer Tim Schaefer stated in an interview this week. Shaefer and California State Treasurer John Chiang are talking about banking and its alternatives for the marijuana industry at a 9 a.m. public meeting that occurred this past Thursday at the Glaser Center in downtown Santa Rosa.

“If you have those kinds of bags of currency rolling around the state, you can see why it’s so important to solve the banking problem,” Schaefer said.

The event is part of Chiang’s statewide “Cannabis Banking Working Group” originally convened in December to get experts on banking and its options with professionals in the marijuana industry to discuss the issue in meetings throughout the state.

This past Thursday in Santa Rosa, representatives from Summit State Bank and Santa Rosa-based cannabis manufacturer CannaCraft will meet with experts on banking regulations, cash collection and payments systems.

A cash-only market comes with risks, from safety concerns for employees working with large quantities of cash to staff time required to handle all aspects of the business involving money.

There are other concerns, too. When CannaCraft was raided by Santa Rosa police back in July while the city’s rules on cannabis manufacturing were in flux, it was payday and the company had $500,000 in cash sorted into envelopes for staff. Police confiscated the money and still have it, even though the case has stalled and prosecutors have not charged any of the operators with a crime.

“It’s the most serious issue facing the industry,” stated Kirk Anderson, CannaCraft’s chief operations officer. Anderson’s brother is Darius Anderson, a principal in Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat.

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