City leaders lobby Congress to relax pot shop banking laws amid recent spate of armed robberies

Apr 27, 2022, 3:25 PM
(Flickr Creative Commons)
(Flickr Creative Commons)

Pot shops across Washington continue to suffer from the ever-growing trend of armed robberies, caused by the fact that, as per federal law, they can only use cash. In 2022 alone, there have been three murders and 80 robberies in Washington state.

Tuesday, Seattle city leaders called on Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would allow cannabis businesses to access traditional banking services.

“Every small business deserves security and stability and every employee deserves to be safe at their place of work. Congress must act with urgency to pass the SAFE Banking Act and give retail cannabis stores commonsense access to financial tools to help keep their workers, customers, and businesses safe,” wrote Mayor Bruce Harrell in a news release.

With cannabis stores currently not allowing credit payments, the State Liquor and Cannabis Board is encouraging cashless phone apps for customers’ pot payments instead.

Thieves use front loader to break into South Seattle dispensary

Scott DeKay owns Savage THC in Clayton. He tells KIRO Newsradio’s Gee and Ursula that he does not feel safe using the apps recommended by the State Liquor and Cannabis Board because they are smaller, less-well-known companies. He is afraid that they might get in trouble for finding a loophole to get around the federal government’s rules.

He says he does not have the funds for a full-time armed security guard, and his estimate is that at least half of pot shops are in the same boat. Instead, he enterprises other security measures to dissuade potential criminals and plans to defend his store if he is robbed. They have put up a chain-link fence, bulletproof glass, and even have dogs on the property in the hopes of intimidating would-be robbers.

DeKay says the only solution is to be able to use banks and cards like every other type of retail business in the state. He would love to see a kind of ‘Bank of Washington’ that would allow businesses to not have to cross state lines when it comes to banking.

KIRO Newsradio has reached out to two of the suggested apps, Aeropay and CanPay, for an interview.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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City leaders lobby Congress to relax pot shop banking laws amid recent spate of armed robberies