By Derrick Stanley
Rainforest Farms, Juneau's first legal marijuana retailer, was turned away late last month by the U.S Postal Service when one of its owners attempted to mail a regularly scheduled tax payment to Anchorage. Anchorage is the only place in the state equipped to take cash deposits.
“Any proceeds from the selling of (marijuana) is considered drug proceeds under federal law, so you can’t mail that,” Postal inspector Aaron Behnen told the Empire from Anchorage.
Ken Alper, Alaska Department of Revenue Tax Division Director, said in an interview that the state needs to find a way for “these legitimate businesspeople to pay their taxes. We thought we had done that, and this throws a tremendous wrinkle into our processes.”
Even though eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, cannabis businesses remain mostly locked out of the banking system.
Marijuana is still illegal federally, so any business that deals with it is in violation of federal law. The U.S. Department of Justice stated in a 2013 memo that it would not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana, but that policy could change at any time.