CUNA backs 3 bills to allow CUs to serve legal cannabis biz

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Washington, D.C.-, June 12, 2018 | comments

CUNA wrote in support of three bills Tuesday that would clarify the ability of financial institutions to serve cannabis-based businesses in states where it is legal. While CUNA does not have a position on legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, it supports the ability of credit unions to serve member businesses when legal.

"CUNA supports credit unions’ ability to serve their members. In states where cannabis is legal for medicinal and recreational purposes, credit union members are engaged in this market but have difficulty accessing traditional banking services," said CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan. "It is also possible that credit unions in states where cannabis is not legal are, without their knowledge, serving members engaged in this market. 

"No matter one’s view on whether cannabis should be legal, the fact of the matter is that the treatment many states is changing rapidly, and the disparity between state and federal law presents a problem for the market and for credit unions," he added. "The risk for credit unions is that many are knowingly and unknowingly serving cannabis businesses without sufficient safe harbor to do so.  The risk for communities is that these businesses operate on cash because they lack access to banking services. These bills would address these issues, and they are consistent with CUNA’s policy to support credit unions providing services to members engaged in activity that is legal at the state level. We look forward to working with the sponsors to secure their passage.

Specifically, CUNA wrote in support of:

  • The Strengthening of the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018 (S. 3032), introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). It would provide financial institutions accepting deposits from, extending credit or providing payment services to an individual or business engaged in legal marijuana-related commerce with legal protections if they are compliant with all other applicable laws and regulations. It also clarifies that compliant financial transactions do not constitute trafficking, or result in proceeds of an unlawful transaction;
     
  • The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2017 (H.R. 2215), introduced by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Denny Heck (D-Wash.). It is narrowly targeted to provide financial institutions accepting deposits from, extending credit or providing payment services to an individual, or business engaged in legal marijuana-related commerce with a safe harbor, if it is compliant with all other applicable laws and regulations. It also provides safe harbor to credit unions and their employees who are not aware if their members or customers are involved in such businesses; and
     
  • A Senate SAFE Banking Act (S. 1152), introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). S. 1152 specifies that a depository institution shall not, under federal law, be liable or subject to forfeiture for providing a loan or other financial services to a legitimate marijuana-related business. It also prohibits a federal banking regulator from:
    • Terminating or limiting the deposit insurance or share insurance of a depository institution solely because the institution provides financial services to a legitimate marijuana-related business;
    • Prohibiting or otherwise discouraging a depository institution from offering financial services to such a business;
    • Recommending, incentivizing, or encouraging a depository institution not to offer financial services to an account holder solely because the account holder is affiliated with such a business; or
    • Taking any adverse or corrective supervisory action on a loan made to a person solely because the person either owns such a business or owns real estate or equipment leased or sold to such a business.
Content originally published by CUNA on June 12, 2018.
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