Journal of Sustainable Social Change


Marijuana reform legislation has created a lucrative industry for legal marijuana on the local and state level in some jurisdictions. Federal laws have forced legal marijuana dispensaries to be cash-only businesses with limited banking options. The lack of normal banking services has also affected firms’ ability to manage profits earned from operations. Our hermeneutic phenomenological study was grounded by the conceptual framework of the motivations of humans and humans’ need to feel safe. The participants in this study were owners and operators in the legal marijuana industry in Colorado. Data were collected through interviews, although the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic of 2020 made data collection more challenging because of the added pressure on potential participants. The data analysis plan for this study consisted of transcribing and reviewing the data, coding themes and supporting themes, and synthesizing and reporting findings from the data collected. The study’s findings included the participants’ concerns about safety in their cash-only operations, their methods for conducting business, and the banking options available to them. Common themes that emerged from the interviews were cash, banking, safety, and the limitations of business size. Findings from my study contribute to fostering positive social change on the organization and industry level by providing accounts of how owners and operators navigate the banking dilemma in the legal marijuana industry.