Vault of Glass: Pot businesses are banking through bongs

By Oscar Pascual |
Photo credit: Flickr/cannabisculture

Cannabis businesses still aren’t legally allowed to use banks. So instead of burying a stack of $100 bills in the backyard, now the marijuana industry is putting all their money in glass.

According to a report from Buzzfeed News, several pot companies are laundering massive amounts of cash through buying and selling rare, bespoke glass smoking accessories.

Despite a promise from former Attorney General Eric Holder, followed by a house vote allowing pot businesses to use banks last year, legitimate marijuana businesses in legal states still have no access to banking services.

The lack of banking services have forced some ganjapreneurs to resort to moving cash in brown paper bags and storing them in safes and basements, but now a select few have decided to invest their funds in ornate, hand-blown glass bongs and dab rigs to sell them for legitimate money.

While marijuana is still federally classified as an illegal drug, glass is very much legal. Businesses can put their weed money into glass and resell them with all the appropriate receipts, paperwork, and taxes, absolving the money in the process.

Some serious glass

Some serious glass

“A lot of people like to buy up glass companies because it’s really hard for the government to see, to understand it,” said Phil Martin, a partner who runs L.A. based seeds and extraction company Moxie 710, in an interview with Buzzfeed News. “They don’t understand that you can buy glass really cheap and then sell it for a high price — they just don’t understand it — so it’s a lot easier for people to put their money in there, launder it, and get it legally back out of the glass company. And that happens a lot.”

Putting all your money into glass might seem like a fragile investment, but there’s actually a laundry list of advantages to investing in diamond-crusted skull-shaped bongs.

While buying bongs wouldn’t necessarily be the wisest investment five years ago, the burgeoning wax dab culture stimulated a demand and innovation in the glass market.

The rise in demand has also caused the the value of glass to fluctuate dramatically. Buzzfeed News estimates that some pieces worth $2,000 a few years ago could currently sell for $10,000. That means pot bosses can clean their cash while also bringing in a sizable return on investment.

It may not be as safe or as secure as keeping money in a bank, but it’s one of the only options available for anyone operating a legitimate marijuana business.

At the very least, it beats rolling a huge barrel of cash through the middle of the desert any day.