Pueblo bank won't do business with marijuana establishments

Pueblo bank won't do business with marijuana establishments

PUEBLO, Colo. - Marijuana establishments won't be banking with Pueblo Bank & Trust, even if the federal government decides to loosen banking regulations.

Last week Attorney General Eric Holder said the government plans to create regulations so that banks can work with marijuana businesses. Still, the president of Pueblo Bank & Trust said he won't.

"The banking industry is typically a conservative industry and we're probably going to take the conservative approach," said bank president Mike Seppala.

Pueblo Bank & Trust sponsors thousands of ATMs across the country. None of them will be in or near marijuana businesses. Seppala said it's the responsible thing to do.

"At some point in time it becomes a business decision, reputational, moral- whatever you want to call it as to whether or not we want to," he said.

Even though marijuana is legal in Colorado, it remains illegal under federal law, keeping many banks away from doing business with pot shops.

Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace said the federal government needs to take action and roll out bank regulations soon. "That way we don't have ATMs and cash on the premise but instead people can use debit cards and credit cards in these stores," Pace said. "It is a public safety concern."

The Colorado Department of Revenue has access to 24-hour video surveillance inside every pot shop. But the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office doesn't believe that's enough when dealing with mostly cash-only businesses. 

"Anytime you mix a large amount of people and a large amount of cash and you put it all in one place, you have a higher propensity to suffer violence," said Pueblo County Undersheriff J.R. Hall.

Hall hopes store owners will use money from marijuana sales to improve store security. 

Hall said the sheriff's office has not received any information to indicate that any marijuana establishment in the county is at risk.

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