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Drug Trafficking

The perils of pot’s cash economy

The perils of pot’s cash economy

Medical marijuana may be a billion-dollar industry in California, but it’s a cash business.

Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, most pot shops can’t get bank accounts or accept credit card transactions because the financial services companies fear they would be penalized or shut down by federal regulators for handling money gained from unlawful drug sales. That means marijuana products are typically sold for cash, and dispensary owners pay their employees, their landlords and others in cash as well. It’s not unusual for pot shop owners to haul bags of money — tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars — to the state...