Colorado and Washington first states to legalize recreational marijuana


AP Photo by Ed Andrieski

A Feb. 10, 2012 photo shows Matthew Huron, owner of two medical marijuana dispensaries and an edible marijuana company in Denver, examining a marijuana plant in his grow house. Medical marijuana is legal in 17 states, but the industry has a decidedly black-market aspect, it’s mostly cash-only. That’s because banks won’t touch pot money. The drug is illegal under federal law, and processing transactions or investments with pot money puts federally insured banks at risk of drug-racketeering charges. In Colorado, state lawmakers are attempting an end-run around the federal ban by creating a cooperative financial institution for state dispensaries and growers to allow them to store and borrow money.