Pot businesses a magnet for robbery

Marijuana leaf (PNC file photo)

Guam – Marijuana businesses —  if recreational use is legalized — may be more susceptible to robbery and burglary due to lack of legal protection for storing money generated by sale of marijuana.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, which would create a safe harbor banks that provide financial services to legal marijuana establishments, has not been enacted yet.

Revenue generated from the sale of marijuana cannot be deposited legally into a bank, so any cannabis businesses that would operate on the island would have to handle their money themselves.

According to Attorney General Leevin Camacho, this would mean that Guam businesses that sell marijuana would “face the daunting problems associated with the handling and reporting of their revenue.”

Other difficulties that marijuana businesses operating on a cash-only basis include the risk of inaccurately tracking profits and challenges concerning establishing amounts due in taxes.

However, the lack of legal protection is not the only issue. Marijuana is still illegal under federal  law. The ability of lawyers to assist government agencies and businesses looking to engage to in marijuana-related activities is prohibited because it is considered criminal conduct.

Because of this, the attorney general leaves to Legislature the question of whether to legalize adult use of recreational marijuana.

While the Republican Party of Guam shares the concerns of the attorney general, they do not agree to leave the decision up to the legislature.

Instead, they believe the community should vote on it during the next election.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, who has publicly expressed her support for legalizing recreational marijuana, said she believes eventually banks will allow this type of deposit.

“Some states are already starting municipal banks which do not have to be regulated by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,” Leon Guerrero said. “The need for banking is absolutely there. You can’t have cash being stashed in floorboards or inside walls. It’s a business, especially [in] areas where it is already legal.”

An advocate for legalization of cannabis is optimistic the stumbling blocks will eventually be eliminated. “We firmly believe that if there is anything the federal government achieves this year, it’s  solving the banking issue for the cannabis industry which generates $6 billion dollars in revenue,” said Janine Sablan from Grassroots Guam.


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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.