On a nondescript San Jose street corner, two tough, young men stand guard, semi-automatic pistols at the ready, as a black box of cash is quickly moved from one unmarked vehicle to another.
Welcome to the brave new world of drug deals, where cannabis profits are licensed, well-regulated and taxed — but shunned by most banks. So businesses that sell, process and distribute marijuana legally in California can’t move money electronically.
The central challenge is this: Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. All banks are subject to federal mandates, through deposit insurance and access to the federal payment system.