SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Paying taxes should not be difficult or dangerous, but pot shops say they can’t write checks because banks will not do business with them. A lawmaker is working to reduce the risk for everyone.
Armored vehicles carrying tax money are proof the danger is still very real for California marijuana businesses and people who live near them.
Assemblymember Phil Ting introduced a bill that would let marijuana businesses pay their city and county taxes with digital currencies such as bitcoin. The goal is to reduce the temptation for thieves by reducing the amount of cash moving around.
“You have stores with cash and then you have at times warehouses with cash and the amount of cash they have is just very difficult to secure,” said Ting.
Christopher Cohen’s company, Total Leaf Incorporated, distributes cannabis edibles and oils.
“It’s dangerous enough transferring our product around. It makes it doubly dangerous transferring all the cash around,” Ting said.
In January, Cohen told CBS13 about the thieves who stole $80,000 worth of products and cash from his Sacramento warehouse. After it happened, he pulled out his wallet to beef up security.
Cohen added steel doors, camera, alarm systems, bolted-down safes, and fences inside. He said it was an expensive endeavor.
The danger also extends to everyone who lives near these businesses.
“A small cannabis store just like a small storefront. They’re in a residential neighborhood. There are people who live there who are all around. If something happened that was potentially violent or dangerous, there could be repercussions for that neighborhood,” Ting said.
If the new bill becomes law, cities, and counties would choose whether they want to accept digital currencies from marijuana businesses. It could happen as soon as 2020.