Oregon’s Federal Delegation to Hold News Conference Spotlighting Marijuana Banking Issues

While medical or recreational marijuana is legal in 23 states including Oregon, it is still an illegal drug in federal statutes. The legal businesses that grow and sell marijuana are having difficulty obtaining banking services, because banks and credit unions could still be prosecuted under federal law.

The conflict is borne out in Colorado where the Federal Reserve denied a master account that would have allowed the Fourth Corner Credit Union in Denver, to serve legal marijuana businesses. That credit union has filed a lawsuit in response, the New York Times reported recently.

 Senators Merkley and Wyden and Representative Blumenauer are scheduled to hold a news conference in a Portland credit union branch Tuesday morning, to highlight the difficulties financial institutions have banking legal marijuana businesses.

All three are supporting legislation that would prevent federal banking regulators from:

  • Prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging a bank or credit union from providing financial services to a legitimate state-sanctioned and regulated marijuana business;
  • Terminating or limiting a bank’s federal deposit insurance solely because the bank is providing services to a state-sanctioned marijuana business;
  • Recommending or incentivizing a bank to halt or downgrade providing any kind of banking services to these businesses; or
  • Taking any action on a loan to an owner or operator of a marijuana-related business.

The legislation also maintains a financial institution’s right not to serve legal marijuana businesses but creates a safe harbor from criminal prosecution, liability and asset forfeiture for those that do serve the businesses.

Editor’s Note: An update on this story has been posted here.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, Federal.