Amanda Woods, a compliance officer working in one of the fastest-growing industries in one of the most economically stable states in the union, tried to get a car loan last year.
The result was immediate.
“I was instantly denied,” said Woods, 26, while sitting in an office she shares with two co-workers, a work arrangement not uncommon for a startup or warehouse.
Woods’ day-to-day duties wouldn’t be out of place in most industries, either. It’s her industry itself that poses the issue.
Rows of marijuana plants greet Woods each morning at Fort Collins-based dispensary Choice Organics.
The so-called “gray market” of marijuana in states that have legalized the drug’s use comes with various barriers from conflicts with federal laws.
Banking is among those conflicts, with dispensary owners facing difficulties of being cash-only businesses unable to get business loans or offer workers payroll deductions for their federal income taxes.
Those barriers have trickled down to marijuana workers, too. Woods describes being in the position of either lying about her employment — and potentially submitting a fraudulent loan application — or attempting a crapshoot with a bank that may not want to take money earned from a business that’s illegal at the federal level.
“It’s unfortunate because it’s not about the typical things, like debt-to-income ratio,” she said.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have moved to address banking issues in states where marijuana is legal. The recently introduced Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act has nine…