Local officials are recommending the City and Borough of Juneau handle all of its financial transactions with marijuana businesses in cash, and to take extra precautions to protect it.
The recommendations are in a memo to the city’s marijuana task force from Finance Director Bob Bartholomew and Deputy Treasurer Theresa Winther.
Since marijuana is illegal under federal law, most banks cannot directly handle marijuana businesses’ money. That’s not an issue for the city government though, and once it is the city’s cash, it’s OK for banks to take it.
The extra cash on hand means there’ll be more in the city’s vaults, more trips to the bank, more security concerns, more staff to reduce the chance of skimming, more paperwork to document transactions – even a small banking surcharge for cash deposits.
The state plans to take marijuana business permit applications beginning in February.
While some marijuana businesses elsewhere have managed to establish checking accounts, Bartholomew and Winther say those tend to get shut down, hence the cash-only recommendation.
The cash issue is on the agenda for the city’s next marijuana task force meeting. It meets at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.