Nevada marijuana dispensaries still struggling to open bank accounts

The recreational marijuana industry is booming, with Nevada collecting $33 million dollars in taxes from the dispensaries in the first five months of sales.

But, dispensaries are still struggling with one simple part of operating a businesses: opening a bank account.

That’s forcing some pot shops to operate in all-cash, while others with bank accounts are still paying thousands of dollars in bills in cash.

“My taxes… I paid those in cash,” said Mike Alvarez, vice president of retail sales for Terra Tech Corp., a publicly traded company that operates Blum dispensary in Reno.

Alvarez says the banks are hesitant to work with cannabis-related businesses because marijuana is still federally illegal.

“I really wish the federal government would declassify cannabis,” said Alvarez.

He adds that if it was removed as a Schedule I drug that would open the door for banks to be more willing to work with them.

Alvarez says Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase Bank have all closed accounts on them. They say they do have a bank account right now, but can’t use it for all of their expenses, so they end up paying cash for some bills. They also paid their taxes and licenses in all cash.

“Thousand of dollars that we have to go pay. So it is concerning when you’re taking that much cash out and walking out to your car, or driving down and actually going to pay it and taking it in a building,” said Alvarez.

As dispensaries wait for the federal laws to change, some are exploring the use of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, as a way to get around the banks.

Since Terra Tech Corp. is publicly traded, cryptocurrency is not an option for them.

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