A deadly Aurora robbery is a new point in the debate over marijuana laws

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Did Travis Mason have to die?

That’s the question that legislators and businesspeople are asking after the 24-year-old veteran and father of three was shot to death in the armed robbery of a marijuana dispensary in Aurora last week.

The current patchwork of laws, they argue, makes dispensaries targets for crime.

Dispensaries generally can’t use banks and credit cards like a typical business does, because weed is federally illegal and banks play by federal rules.

The result is that they have to rely on cash, armored cars and security guards, as Rocky Mountain PBS demonstrates below.

What options are on the table?

Marijuana businesses have “evolved” to minimize the amount of cash in their stores, the Aurora Sentinel reports, but this latest crime still has renewed calls for a change to the system.

One way to do that would be the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act, which does exactly what you’d expect: It allows banks to take money from marijuana businesses without fear of reprisal.

The proposal, according to RMPBS, enjoys the support of both of Colorado’s U.S. senators and the governor, but it seems unlikely to pass the U.S. Congress.

House Republicans just yesterday nixed the latest effort to open the banking system, Denver Business Journal reports.

Mason’s killers, meanwhile, are still on the run.

Police are searching for two suspects, both of whom reportedly had handguns. Federal and local law enforcement, along with a local dispensary, have offered up $12,000 for information on the crime. They have only described the race of the suspects.