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Marijuana Banking Bill Is Snuffed Out In Colorado

It's OK to sell pot in Colorado, but there's still nowhere but the mattress to legally stash the proceeds.

That's the continuing problem for legal marijuana dealers in the state, who are caught between the state's legalization of cannabis and federal laws that still classify it as a controlled substance.

Colorado had been crafting a plan to address the issue, but the proposed law was scotched late Thursday. It would have allowed state-licensed marijuana businesses, which can't legally access the regular banking system, to create a financial co-op, something akin to an uninsured credit union.

Republican state Rep. Kevin Priola, who sponsored an amendment to table the measure, says lawmakers need to "take some time to have this properly vetted." But representatives from both parties had expressed reservations about the legislation.

Time magazine notes that in February: "The Justice and Treasury departments issued guidance suggesting that banks could offer basic services to marijuana dealers, but financial institutions remain wary. Consensus is growing that it will take an act of Congress to change the situation."

Besides Colorado, where pot was legalized in 2013, the state of Washington has also approved its sale for recreational use. Washington faces the same problems concerning the financial end of the business.

As The Two-Way's Eyder Peralta reported in March, Colorado made $3.5 million in taxes and fees from legal pot in January, the first month of legal sales.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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