Colorado pot profits: Where does all the money go? - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Colorado pot profits: Where does all the money go?

(CNN) - Colorado is set to release its first report on taxes collected from legal recreational marijuana sales.

But while the state counts its cash.

Some pot shops are left wondering what to do with their profits.

CNN's Ana Cabrera finds out where weed dispensaries are putting all that cash when they get turned away by banks.

It's a budding business, already bringing in big time money. But with few places to put it.

Ana: "How much money are you making?"

Dispensary Owner: "Last month we did about a million in sales."

Ana: "A million plus in a month?"

Dispensary Owner: "In one month, yeah."

We wanted to know what happens with those pot profits.

So we agreed to hide this dispensary-owner's identity for safety reasons.

Ana: "What do you do with all this cash?"

Dispensary Owner: "Well we're fortunate enough to have a bank. We bank with a company and, quite honestly, it's a don't ask don't tell relationship."

Ana: "So they don't know you're actually a pot shop?"

Dispensary Owner: "Oh I think they have a strong suspicion that we are especially when you have to turn in all your documentation to the banks and it says exactly what you are. It's just for them if they can ignore it. So we take great pains to help them ignore it by paying our vendors with cash."

Dispensary Owner: "We also fabreeze the money so it doesn't smell like marijuana when they get it. And we use an armored car service to come pick it up and take it to the vault for us."

While banking is happening.

The majority of dispensary owners are forced to hide their earnings elsewhere.

"We try not to keep any amount of cash in high levels and any one location,"
Kristi Kelly, Co-founder Good Meds said.

Big stashes of cash, locked away in safes.

Guard dogs, to discourage attackers.

For everyone in this federally illicit business, security is a huge concern.

All dispensaries are required to have surveillance cameras eying every corner. And a lot of dispensaries have alarm systems and panic buttons like this, just in case of an emergency. Then there are dispensaries that are taking security to a whole other level.

"My theme is that I say 'you mess with the Russian, you face the repercussions," Leo Pavlushkin, Blue Line Protection Group said.

6'4, 275-pounds, Leo Pavlushkin is a former member of Russian special forces.

"'Spetsnaz,' Russian special forces, yeah," Pavlushkin said.

He's now a member of the Blue Line Protection group, a private company providing armed security for dozens of dispensaries.

"You don't know who will come in trying to overtake the place, would try to start shooting or hurt somebody or trying to do whatever. I mean, they can be unpredictable," Pavlushkin said.

In Denver, there have been about 150 reported burglaries of licensed marijuana facilities in the past year.

Business owners say banking needs must be addressed. For the sake of safety.

"I hope that we don't need to see something bad happen before the federal government takes some serious actions to resolve this as a problem,"
Kelly said.

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