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Senators fighting bank regulation to make cannabusiness possible

(FINANCE NEWS) Despite the move towards legalization continuing to spread, state by state, legal marijuana businesses are faced with a lack of access to banks and credit unions.

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The spread of legalizaiton

The November elections saw a number of states decriminalize the purchase, possession, and consumption of marijuana, and it’s now legal in more than half the nation. However, despite the move towards legalization continuing to spread, state by state, we’ve written before about barriers to entry into the field, including a lack of access to banks and credit unions.

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“Good people don’t smoke marijuana”

Legal though it might be in some places, it’s still not a universally popular position that it ought to be, nor that ancillary businesses that support legal marijuana dispensaries ought to have access to banking. Jeff Sessions, the nominee for the Attorney Generalship and US senator from Alabama, has taken a vociferous and clear stance. Calling marijuana “dangerous” and commenting that “good people don’t smoke marijuana”, Sessions’ angst over the drug was noted as far back as 1986, when his bid for a federal judgeship was scuttled after testimony from Justice Department colleagues about his behavior while posted as the US Attorney in Mobile.

In direct testimony, Sessions was alleged to have joked that the Ku Klux Klan “was O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.”

If his position is clear, it’s not as if he’s been the only federal voice that’s not relented. In 2016, the Justice Department refused to both legalize it, or to reclassify it on the controlled substance chart, choosing to leave it as a Schedule I controlled substance, making it the legal equivalent of heroin. But while it’s illegal to possess it, current federal law prohibits the Justice Department from spending money for interdiction or prosecution efforts in states where it’s been legalized.

Legal, except for the profits

So, it’s federally illegal to possess it, but the Justice Department can’t do anything to enforce those laws in the states in which it’s illegal. In the states in which it’s legal, it’s legal, sure, but the profits from the businesses can’t be deposited in banks that hold a federal charter, so it’s an all-cash business. A Catch-22 for the 21st century, to be sure.

In late 2016, ten US senators sent a letter to the Acting Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), decrying the situation and identifying yet again the concerns that they have from their constituents, including both those directly involved in the marijuana business and those who aren’t, that restricting this segment of the business community to a cash-only trade “jeopardizes community safety, limits economic growth, and greatly expands the opportunity for tax fraud.”

“Most banks and credit unions have either closed accounts or simply refused to offer services to indirect and ancillary businesses that service the marijuana industry,” the letter stated.

“A large number of professionals have been unable to access the financial system because they are doing business with marijuana growers and dispensaries.”

Who is being affected?

These ancillary professions include vendors that work directly with the marijuana dispensaries, such as field chemists, security firms, attorneys, and repairmen alike. “Locking lawyers, landlords, plumbers, electricians, security companies, and the like out of the nation’s banking and finance systems serves no one’s interest,” the letter continued. Having these professionals unable to access bank accounts has become problematic for them as well, with some being placed in the unenvious position of having to choose between turning down business or finding themselves unable to go to the bank.

FinCEN and the Justice Department had provided guidance to the banking industry previously, in 2014, giving them the authority and ability to do business legally with the marijuana industry, but it hasn’t yet been universally adopted, nor, in the opinion of the senators, adequately addressed the additional issues that still surface.

Business is business

“These people are businessmen,” said Burton Marks. “Maybe they’re in a dirty business that you don’t like, but nevertheless they are in business.”

Marks’ comments came 33 years ago, in 1973, speaking to the US Supreme Court in his defense of Marvin Miller, who had been convicted of obscenity in California for his work as the purveyor of adult magazines and pictures.

The businesses are markedly different, but the sentiment is the same: it’s time that legal businesses were treated on morally neutral grounds and that protections that legal businesses enjoy were extended to all on a neutral basis.

#Cannibusiness

Roger is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds two Master's degrees, one in Education Leadership and another in Leadership Studies. In his spare time away from researching leadership retention and communication styles, he loves to watch baseball, especially the Red Sox!

Business Finance

Bankruptcy doesn’t mean what it used to; no longer the end

(FINANCE NEWS) With the way the world works now, bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily mean game over.

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When it’s over, it’s over. Perhaps you heard your best friend utter this phrase after a bad break-up. It’s true, most things that end, end for good. Except in this case, when it comes to the retail business.

We have seen a record number of retailers declare bankruptcy this year. Beloved teen retailers like Wet Seal have closed down their stores and malls have become ghost towns.

Reuters estimates that nineteen major retail chains have already shut down for good. While you may not miss the tight, neon dresses sold at Bebe, closures of all of these retailers result in a tremendous loss of jobs.

And it is not only job losses from the store in your hometown, often it is hundreds of locations across the nation.

For most of these retailers, bankruptcy was the definitive end to the business. After filing, most companies choose to close all locations and liquidate the assets. This is the most common path to take, until now.

Even with the surge of bankruptcy, those behind the business are finding alternative paths to keep the business alive.

Behind the scenes, there are three core groups invested in every business: the company’s creditors, vendors, and landlords. All of these groups have a vested interest in keeping the company alive even if they are in debt.

The most recent trend for bankrupt businesses has been to keep stores open and negotiate debt loans rather than shutting down everything. The truth is that a lot of these businesses still attract customers and have a large cash flow, even if they are technically bankrupt.

For instance, Toys ‘R’ Us manages to take in $800 million each year on average which makes it a viable business. Of course, they are $5 billion in debt, but with an extension and restructuring of their business, they could one day turn a profit. However, this will only happen if they are given the chance to keep their doors open.

There are other options to lending helping hands to bankrupt businesses. After the popular teen retailer Rue21 declared bankruptcy landlords agreed to reduce their rents 20% on average. Though these situations are not ideal, this mentality gives businesses a life beyond bankruptcy and save thousands of jobs in the process.

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Business Finance

Everyone’s favorite online retailer is set to accept Bitcoin by October!!!

(FINANCE NEWS) One big name online retailer is about to hop on the cryptocurrency train and start accepting Bitcoin at check out as soon as October.

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Crypto currently

There’s no denying that cryptocurrency has taken off like wildfire, but will Amazon be jumping on the bitcoin bandwagon?

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According to one top source, Amazon has already started flirting with the idea and could be ready to fully use bitcoin in October.

Kind of a big deal

The news broke via The James Altucher Report, which is run by the former hedge fund manager and venture capitalist James Altucher. Altucher uses his experience in the business realm, where he has cofounded over 20 companies, to offer realistic financial advice and insight.

He communicates via his popular newsletters, blog and podcast. According to Altucher, Amazon is geared up to change their payment options as early as October.

Already Testing the Waters

Last year, Amazon partnered up with Digital Currency Group, a major investor in Bitcoin, to act as an intermediary between them and their clients. Amazon’s role is to handle all transactions, many of which include the popular cryptocurrency.

Major companies like Google, Ebay and Paypal already accept bitcoin so it is just a matter of time until Amazon follows suit. Even Japan and Russia recognize it as legal currency.

Amazon + Bitcoin = AmaCoin?

Don’t think of bitcoin as Amazon’s only option. Some speculate that Amazon may one day create their own currency.

As a company that has already started testing drones as a future delivery method, custom currency does not seem so out of this world.

The blockchain option has been a refreshing alternative to using traditional banks, especially for those who do not have faith in the current banking practices.

There are questions

If Amazon jumps onboard and rolls out a plan to use bitcoin this year, Altucher anticipates a major surge in its value. Since they have yet to announce an official strategy, and because the option of them creating their own currency is still up in the air, it is unknown how Amazon will integrate it into their system.

Will Amazon find a different way to accept bitcoin? Perhaps a brand new way? If Amazon does start using bitcoin they will join many other tech companies that have already anticipated the growth in its value. Amazon isn’t the only company that has started transitioning over. Many other tech companies have already started to become intermediaries to manage digital transactions.

#AmazonBitcoin

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Business Finance

Pirate Bay is mining cryptos using their users’ CPU… those scallywags

(FINANCE NEWS) Cryptocurrency and mining and pirates. It all sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, but trust us, it’s 100% real.

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Who pirates the pirates?

Well, pirates, naturally. Piracy is a fractal. There is nothing so small that someone won’t strap on an eyepatch, grab a parrot and snag themselves an unlawful piece.

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Such is the swashbuckling tale recently broken on Reddit about Pirate Bay, which is borrowing visitors’ CPU cycles to mine cryptocurrency.

TRANSLATION, PLEASE?

To translate that from Internet to English, “mining” cryptocurrency means volunteering your computer to verify blockchain transactions. We’ve covered blockchain in depth before, but the short version is it’s a particular security protocol that encrypts tokens representing money.

When you join a cryptocurrency exchange, you use that exchange’s blockchain to encrypt your stuff.

Some members of an exchange volunteer their computers to verify that transactions have taken place. Then they’re encrypted, never to be futzed with again. Those members get paid for their trouble with fractions of coins from the exchange.

The volunteers don’t actually do anything. The verification and encryption are automatic. That’s the point of cryptocurrency: no flighty or nefarious humans are involved in the bookkeeping. It’s all about the robots. That said, somebody owns the robots, and robot time is worth money. Therefore, miners.

SIXTEEN COINS – WHAT DO YOU GET?

“Miners,” in common currency dork parlance, are folks who invest in verifying transactions on a large scale, turning those fractions of coins into meaningful profit. It’s a smart way to make consistent money.

One big caveat: you need serious computing power to do it enough to matter.

Lifewire estimates an upfront cost of $3000 to $5000 to get real money out of the process. That said, their estimate also says 50 dollars a day in profit, which means over the course of a year you’re talking 3 to 5 times the money you put in. Ain’t chump change.

YAR

Which brings us to Pirate Bay. Pirate Bay is, as I’m sure the pure and innocent readers of American Genius would have no reason to know, a torrent site where various forms of media may be secured for free by nefarious means.

You’re shocked, I’m sure. Not everybody is, it turns out: as of this article, it’s the 88th most popular website on Earth. 25th in Canada! Canadians, man. They’re tricksy.

So, unsurprisingly, is Pirate Bay.

To state the obvious, swiping media and giving it away is not a working business strategy. Robin Hood did not have a positive P&L ratio. Typically – I’m told, I of course would have no way of knowing this myself – torrent sites support themselves through ad revenue. That wasn’t cutting it for Pirate Bay, plus they just wanted to get rid of the ads for an improved user experience, so they experimented.

Their first scheme was borrowing users’ CPUs while they were on the website, using unused processor cycles to mine cryptocurrency.

BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A CRYPTODIME?

The rollout was flawed. In fact the rollout was nonexistent: the only reason anybody even knew it was happening was somebody effed up the miner script and it started taking 100 percent of users’ CPU cycles as long as they were on the page. Oops.

But fair dues, Pirate Bay did exactly what tech folks should do when caught with their digital drawers down.

They fessed up in an official statement that explained their intent, addressed the problem people were complaining about, and invited further input. That’s more than can be said for, say, Uber.

More to the point, if the cryptocurrency mining plan goes forward, Pirate Bay will be providing a service to consumers in exchange for compensation at stated rates. The fact that it all comes in a novel form – the service is peer-to-peer, based on a model of free sharing; the compensation is provided voluntarily by people who aren’t receiving the services; the rates are measured in CPU cycles rather than money – doesn’t change the fact that fundamentally, “service to consumer for compensation” equals “business plan.”

For another time

Whether it’s a workable business plan or not is a question for Future Matt. Present Matt just has a question: if it does work, if Pirate Bay becomes a self-supporting enterprise trading encrypted, peer-to-peer money for an encrypted, peer-to-peer service, what then? At what point does it become more reasonable, and for that matter more ethical, to accept peer-to-peer transaction as a real thing and regulate it accordingly, as opposed to banning it outright?

Ask Piet Heyn. Better yet, order a mojito and run it past Captain Morgan. (It’s better because you get a mojito.) Back in the days of real pirates, when you wanted to rein them in, you just legalized them. If Pirate Bay establishes a legitimate revenue stream, that may well be the smart next step.

#PirateBay

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