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DOJ Decision Means Banking Is The Next Challenge For Colorado Marijuana

The Equinest
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The U.S. Department of Justice says it won’t stop marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. Thursday’s announcement means Colorado’s pot shops could open as early as January.

“I’m really pretty ecstatic with this announcement. It signals a very positive shift on marijuana laws,” said Brian Vicente with Amendment 64 supporter Sensible Colorado. “This really answers the unanswered question for years, what happens if Colorado legalizes Marijuana?”

“And now we know, they’re going to step aside and let us move forward with strict regulations,” said Vicente.

For months the federal government has been silent on the issue of marijuana legalization. Attorney General Eric Holder broke his silence announcing that recreational marijuana shops could open, as long as they follow state laws.

While the marijuana industry says it’s a huge weight lifted, there are remaining concerns. Like the issue of banking.

“It’s one of those areas where the federal government has really been interfering with the Colorado program and in turn creating a public safety issue, by not allowing businesses to have access to banking,” said Mike Elliot head of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.

Congress will soon be taking up the topic of marijuana regulations. The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing September 10 to discuss federal oversight and how state and federal marijuana laws interact.

Attorney General Holder has been invited to speak at the hearing.

This fall voters across Colorado will decide how recreational marijuana should be taxed.

Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.
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