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How do Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Relate to Money Laundering and Structuring | Colorado

Our Denver Medical Marijuana Attorney at The Law Office of Douglas Richards has experience dealing with cases relating to structuring and money laundering in regards to Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.

“In the state of Colorado, our Constitution was amended a number of years
ago to allow people to possess and grow marijuana legally. It’s legal under
state law. It’s not legal under federal law. You have a problem there,
because at this point where we are right now, the feds are not really
prosecuting or investigating a lot of people.

That could change, and I think that’s going to change with the election. It
depends on who comes in as the next president, or if we have the same
president. I think that’s going to be a big difference. We’ll see a lot of
changes with this coming election. For the time being, the feds are just
kind of staying out of it, at least here in Colorado. I know in other
jurisdictions they’re getting involved.

But one thing that you have to be aware of is that even if they’re not
going to prosecute you for violating a controlled substance law, they could
still prosecute you for violating a money laundering statute. Money
laundering can happen a lot faster than you realize it is. It doesn’t have
to be this very sophisticated scheme that you might think of that you see
in the movies.

If you are receiving a bunch of cash, for example, and I’ll give you a
hypothetical here. Let’s just say you’ve got a lot of cash in your pocket.
If you end up going to a car dealership and you want to buy a car that
costs $15,000, if you give them $15,000 in cash, they’re going to file
what’s called a Suspicious Activity Report and file it with the government.

The FBI actually gets these reports, and they look into it to investigate
where the funds are obtained from and those sorts of things. They file
these sorts of documents for cash transactions above $10,000. So here’s
where structuring becomes an issue and where some people can get sort of
accidentally involved in a structuring case.

So, with that $15,000 car purchase with cash, you walk in and you don’t
want them to file that report. So you give them $9,999 on day one, and the
next day you come in and give them the balance, or you give them two
amounts of $7,500, or you give them $5,000 three different times. If the
government can come in and look at those transactions and say, “You know
what? They are actually trying to avoid the reporting requirement, where
the car dealership would have to send in a form to say, ‘Hey listen. This
citizen here was spending cash in excess of $10,000.'” If they can prove
that you were trying to avoid that, they can hit you with a structuring
charge.

How does this relate back to Colorado and the dispensaries? This is
typically a cash business, and a lot of the banks in Colorado now won’t do
business with the dispensaries because it violates federal law. So people
are stuck with having a lot of cash in their pocket and trying to account
for it.

I’ve seen some people get in trouble this way. I’m not advising you in any
way on how you should spend cash and that. I’m just giving you a
hypothetical how dangerous having a lot of cash in your pocket can be and
how the medical dispensaries in Colorado are forcing people to do a cash
business and have only cash in their pockets.”