Alex Mason is 25-year-old transplant from South Carolina, now living in Colorado. He moved there back in 2012 to spend some time enjoying the Rocky Mountains and the outdoor activities associated. In 2012 though, Colorado voters did something that nobody expected, legalized marijuana.
Alex watched on the front line of marijuana legalization, and he took not in the industry’s biggest and most daunting problem; banks wouldn’t accept their money. Mason called up his father, an attorney in South Carolina and laid out the problem. Since weed is illegal on federal level, most banks and credit unions won’t take a dime of cash that comes from the cannabis industry. The risk of federal fines, seizures, and the exorbitant amount of red tape is too much to ask of banks, and as a result ganjapreneurs are left holding hoards of cash.
With his father Mark, mother Rhoda, and sister Delaney on board, Alex charged forward with the idea. He used the help of former Denver City Attorney Doug Friednash, who helped draft city guidelines for cannabis. Friednash and Mark Mason worked with Alex day and night for months to put together the Fourth Corner Credit Union. Alex leaned on his father and other establish law and banking professionals to cut through red tape, while they relied on him for industry outreach (citing that their appearance and background painted them as ‘the man’).
Meanwhile, Alex’s sister and mother were fielding emails and even reaching out to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s office to move the project forward. Other experts recruited to work on the projects were folks like Denver City Council member Chris Nevitt and Martin Kenney, an expert who’s made a name for himself fighting financial fraud and money laundering.
Kenney says, “The Fourth Corner Credit Union holds the promise of getting an estimated $650 million in proceeds of annual cannabis sales per year in Colorado off of the streets and into a safe and well-regulated environment. The centerpiece to the Fourth Corner Credit Union will be a highly intelligent, cutting-edge anti-money laundering compliance unit.”
Although it could take up to 2 years to hear back from their FDIC application, the Fourth Corner Credit Union represents tumultuous change for the cannabis industry. The lack of banking has been, and remains the biggest problem for the legal marijuana industry.
Along with his vision for change in cannabis banking, Alex aspires to launch a non-profit to facilitate medical marijuana research and save lives using the plant. Alex says, “My friends in the legal marijuana business have been given an amazing opportunity, and they all want to do good things for society. Charitable work is important to me and to them.”
via: Rolling Stone