Being hooked up with a Colorado-based firm, I've given a lot of thought (and blog space) to the intersection of law (particularly banking law) and marijuana. As a result of these deep thoughts I'd like to say...uh...ummm..yeah...
It turns out I'm not the only one hanging out at corner of Bank and Bong Streets. So has professor Sam Kamin of my former place of abasement, The University of Denver's Sturm College of Law. According to a recent article by the editor of the The Denver Post's "The Cannabist" column, Professor Kamin will teach a course entitled "Representing the Marijuana Client." The description of the course does not describe whether the emphasis will be on representing clients who are under the influence of marijuana, are engaged in the state-lawful, federal-unlawful marijuana-related business, or are, themselves, marijuana. Taken literally, a "marijuana client" could be a joint, a roach, an edible, or merely a pipe bowl of stems and seeds.
Among the topics addressed in the course description will be "banking," and we assume that does not refer to a type of turn performed by an airplane, but, rather, the legal issues surrounding a commercial bank providing services to a marijuana-related business. As we recently pointed out, that aspect of the course can summed up rather quickly: it's illegal under federal law.
See, we saved potential students some time and money. We here at bank lawyers blog are all about mentoring.
On the other hand, as Kamin rightly points out, the issues involved are many and complex.
When I was on the Amendment 64 task force and just thinking about an edible — what can be in it, who’s determining what’s in it, what the dosage is, how you indicate the dosage, how you make sure it’s safely packaged, how it can be advertised,” he said. “Every small piece of it has so many regulatory issues, so if you’re working in that area, running a MIP (marijuana-infused product manufacturer) or something, the state, local, federal regulations of that are mind-boggling.”
As they are if you're trying to bank one of those businesses.
We wish Professor Kamin and his students well, because, this is an issue that is not going to simply disappear in a cloud of smoke. Moreover, it's not an issue confined to Colorado, but one that affects a growing number of states. Therefore, Kamin's closing statement is very cogent.
“It’s an expertise our students will have and others won’t,” he said. “There’s a lot of demand for this — and we’re trying to position our students well to fit in there.”
Yes, when it comes to marijuana, there has always been a lot of demand. As long as the students who take the course do not (even casually) partake of the subject matter, they might actually be able to render some useful advice to those in need of it.