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Groups meet to talk about problems ‘cash-only’ pot shops face

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OLYMPIA-- It’s a one billion dollar business. And it's largely cash only.

To crooks, that makes pot shops big targets.  Tuesday, members from the banking industry, law enforcement, and pot shop owners gathered to find a solution.

“It’s an absolute magnet for criminal activity of all types,” said Representative Denny Heck.

Others agreed.

“That end of a gun looks huge no matter who you are or what business you’re in” said High Supply Limited Liability Corp Owner John Murphy.

With a high cash flow business like a pot shop, it leaves them vulnerable to thieves.

“Our job is to make sure they can come and go as they please and they feel safe so they don’t have those fears those worries about being a part of a crime or being criminalized themselves,” said Thurston Co. Undersheriff Tim Braniff.

The banking industry isn’t on board because it’s still technically money laundering.  There’s also the thought it’ll tarnish a bank’s reputation.

On Tuesday, the Cannabis Banking Coalition, Thurston Co. Sheriff’s Office and cannabis industry leaders gathered along with pot shop owners to tackle the problem.  But the changes must come from lawmakers in Washington, DC.

“Build pressure on congress to make the common sense public safety thing and allow these businesses to have access to banking services,” said Heck.

It would also take lawmakers to change marijuana from a schedule one drug to a schedule three.  But until Capitol Hill makes big changes, the panel expects to see armed robberies at cannabis businesses more often.

“I don’t think any employer in the state of Washington wants to put their people in any kind of condition where they could be robbed,” Murphy said.

A Gallup poll from 2015 shows 71% of millennials support legal marijuana, but a new president or attorney general could put a stop to all cannabis business.