Jan 272015

The Russ Belville Show #530 420RADIO News – Oregon’s MBank Drops Out of Colorado MJ Biz [2015-01-27 Tue]

Oregon’s MBank pulls out of Colorado a week after taking on pot accounts.  The Oregon community bank’s CEO Jef Baker said, “Following national press, the volume of inquiries in Oregon, Washington and Colorado has been so overwhelming that we don’t currently have the infrastructure to adequately support all these customers.”  People familiar with the move say the retreat was pressed by federal banking regulators who stepped in late last week to tell MBank executives that crossing several states to work with an industry that remains illegal under federal law was simply too risky.  Part of the issue, Baker said, was MBank’s lack of a Colorado branch, which would require approval from state banking authorities.  Baker side-stepped questions about whether it was the FDIC — the agency he said offered its “tacit approval” to the idea only a week ago — that pushed MBank out of Colorado.

More than 90% of theft in the cannabis industry is internal, according to Adherence Colorado, a new firm that conducts third party compliance audits for marijuana dispensaries and grows.  ”Theft is very common due to the low wages paid in the marketplace and the transient nature of the industry’s badged labor force,” said Steve Owens, founder and CEO of Adherence Colorado.  Internal fraud at one of Adherence Colorado’s first clients exceeded 5% of cost of goods sold on a monthly basis. With revenues in excess of $400,000 per month, the business experienced some $20,000 or more per month in revenue leakage from theft.  Of the more than 2,000 licenses to cultivate, manufacture and sell marijuana that have been granted in Colorado since recreational use was legalized on January 1, 2014, at least 25 recreational and medicinal shops have been suspended or closed in the past few months.

The bill that could legalize medical marijuana in Georgia was formally submitted to the House Chamber Monday, about a year after the first effort failed to pass.  Several families that could be affected by the law’s passing stood by State Representative Allen Peake at a press conference.  Peake says 17 Georgia families are considered “medical refugees,” who have uprooted and moved to states like Colorado or California, where medical marijuana is already legal.  Peake announced more than a hundred state politicians have signed onto his bill so far.  Under that law, families who have legally accessed cannabis oil would be granted immunity for carrying the medicine across state lines.  The problem is, they’d still be breaking federal law.  Peake said after extensive talks with Governor Nathan Deal, it was clear the Governor wouldn’t sign a bill that had a grow provision attached, because Deal believes more research should be done.

Legislation that would allow medical marijuana in Pennsylvania has been reintroduced in the Senate after a similar measure died last year after it failed to make it to the House floor.  Senate Bill 3 is nearly identical to its predecessor, SB 1182, which passed the Senate in September by a vote of 43-7 but was never considered by the House.  In all, the bill currently has 25 co-sponsors, including 14 Democrats and 11 Republicans. It also has the backing of Gov. Tom Wolf.  In its current form, the bill would create a board of state officials and medical professionals that would be charged with implementing the state’s medical marijuana law.  The licensing fee for growers and dispensaries would be $50,000 with a $5,000 renewal fee every year.  Patient cards would cost $100 with a $50 annual renewal.  Initially, the state would limit the number of growers and processors to 65 each.

Voters will decide on April 7 whether to lessen the penalty for first-time possession of marijuana in Wichita, Kansas.  The Wichita City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to put the measure on the ballot.  The proposal seeks to amend the city code and make a first-offense marijuana possession a criminal infraction with a $50 fine instead of a misdemeanor. The conviction would be expunged after 12 months if an offender keeps a clean record.  Enforcement would be handled through a summons or citation, similar to a traffic ticket, rather than an arrest. The change would apply only to those 21 or older carrying 32 grams or less of marijuana and/or the paraphernalia to use it.  Current city ordinances and state law say possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia are criminal offenses with a fine of up to $2,500 in addition to up to one year in the Sedgwick County Jail.