Contributor: John A. Collins
The federal government’s gross mistreatment of the marijuana industry has gone on for far too long.
It all began with their criminal miscategorization of cannabis as a Schedule I substance. In doing so, not only did they make it illegal on a federal level, but they also unjustly claimed that cannabis was as dangerous as cocaine and meth. In addition to that, they stated that they believed marijuana has no medicinal properties to speak of.
As you and I both know, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The wealth of medicinal and therapeutic benefits that coincide with cannabis continues to grow with each passing year of newly allowed research. Because, for all those years before legalization was even an entertained premise on the state level, they strictly prohibited labs from doing tests of various forms of marijuana.
Nearly $150,000 Of Marijuana Revenue Stolen In Santa Ana
In fact, the only studies done on marijuana were conducted with their “own batch” of suspect cannabis, and done by their own scientists. Now, if that doesn’t reek of corruption, you may need to blow your nose, because that stinks to high-heaven, my friend!
Even though the list of anti-cannabis atrocities performed on the part of the federal government goes on and on from there, one major development that’s hurt the newly-legalized cannabis industry greatly has everything to do with federal restrictions put on banking companies.
In this day and age of states legalizing marijuana for their citizens, dispensaries are forced to work with “cash-only” business models, as the federal government still hasn’t lifted its illegal label off of cannabis yet. Therefore, banking companies would be greatly penalized for trying to help these honest, tax-paying businesses from dealing with only cash.
Thankfully, the SAFE Banking Act was recently approved. This act allows banks to work with these companies and dispensaries, without any fear of government involvement or penalties. Although, they still haven’t worked out all the kinks, but lawmakers plan to put it into effect sometime in the very near future.
But, until that day, dispensaries and cannabis clubs are forced to work with just cash. And, being such a well-known beacon of booming business, that only means they are more of a target for criminals. These robbers assume there’s mountains of soon-to-be deposited cash in these places, so they wait, and they plan, until one day, they rob the place blind.
However, while those reported financial numbers do ring true, that doesn’t mean each location is sitting atop a mountain of cash at all times. Owners and proprietors of these places work with armed courier services to transport their money for them. Thus, removing any monetary incentive/reward a criminal would desire.
Which, to be honest, is the smartest, most secure way to go about such an endeavor. But, what if someone robbed your courier? Then what?
Well, that’s exactly what happened recently in the Southern California neighborhood of Santa Ana.
Apparently, security footage from a gas station shows a man breaking into one of these unmarked courier vans, while the driver was inside. He subsequently stole two large bags of money, and took off in a waiting Nissan Pathfinder. When police arrived on scene, they crunched some numbers, and realized the perp got away with $145,000. The haul was so large because the driver had just finished collecting money from a number of different dispensaries in the area.
Upon further inspection, authorities are starting to suspect that the driver, and his routine, had been watched for an undetermined amount of time. To be more specific, the footage taken at the scene, showed that the Nissan Pathfinder was already at a gas pump. However, nobody ever got out of it. Not one person got out to pump gas, grab a snack, nothing. It was just sitting there, waiting.
Then, the courier van full of cash pulled up. Per the usual, the driver hopped out, and proceeded to head inside. Presumably, to pay for gas. The second he was inside, a man hopped out of the waiting Pathfinder, smashed the van’s window with the help of a foreign object, and immediately reached into the center console, revealing two massive bags full of cash. It was almost as if he knew what he was looking for.
Then, like you’d imagine, he grabbed his loot, dove back into the Nissan Pathfinder, and drove off. The suspect(s) fled the scene, and police are still trying to figure out their whereabouts.
Anthony Bertagna, the Police Cpl. in Santa Ana, was reached for comment on the whole ordeal. Though he was broached with questions about the potential involvement of the driver in the crime, he didn’t appear to have inclination that the driver was a part of the robbery. But, of course, there’s still a lot of evidence that needs to be put together before any final declaration can be made.
When Bertagna was asked about how the criminals could’ve pulled off such a quick and efficient heist, he wasn’t shy about sharing his two cents on the matter. Specifically, Bertagna said, “He could have been followed from L.A. Do they know his routine? There are a lot of open questions. It appears they were looking for an opportunity, and they did it in a matter of seconds.”
Adding, “It’s quite apparent they knew what they were doing and how they were going to do it.”
Will police ever find these criminals? Was the driver more involved than he’s letting on? How long was he potentially followed by this mysterious Nissan Pathfinder? All of these questions, and more, are still unanswered. But, even after this case is closed, that doesn’t change the fact that such a crime could’ve been avoided had the federal government not placed a restriction of banks, prohibiting them from doing business with marijuana companies in the first place.
These businesses are just as by-the-book legal as any of their neighboring establishments. There’s absolutely no reason they should be treated any differently. In fact, such a political tactic is proof positive that the federal government is stubborn, petty, and unfair in multiple ways.
Such archaic thinking is only hurting them in the long run, as more and more states are turning a blind eye to that wrongful miscategorization of cannabis as a “lethal, non-medicinal” substance. Marijuana is the exact opposite. It’s completely safe, and possesses far more powerful, reliable, and healthy medicinal properties than lethal opioids.
Thankfully, as I alluded to above, more states across the country are embracing cannabis after years of neglect, and they, too, are reaping the revenue-related rewards of such a political move. That, along with powerful pieces of pro-marijuana legislation, like the SAFE Banking Act, it’s beginning to look like the federal tides are starting to sway in our direction a bit.
But, even though measures and bills like this have passed, we must stay on top of our elected officials, to make sure they make good on their word. When a bill has passed, it can take a long time before it actually goes into effect, but if we continue to press the issue with the “powers that be” there’s no telling what kind of change we can bring about.
At the end of the day, it’s all about making the world a safer place, by eliminating as much criminal activity as possible. Allowing cannabis clubs and companies to work with banks, and forgo this “cash-only” business model, is the best way to accomplish that goal.