Legislators Unite in Support of Access to Banking for Legal Marijuana Businesses

Legislators across the nation renewed a resolution calling for states’ rights to determine their own paths forward on cannabis regulation.

8/8/17

Marijuana banking challenges are a priority for the country’s state legislators this week, as they gather in Boston for the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL). Answering a request by the Oregon legislative delegation, attendees renewed a resolution to help legal cannabis businesses access banking services. The resolution also calls for removing cannabis from Schedule 1 status on the federal level, potentially clearing the way for breakthrough medical research.

The Justice Department issued guidelines in the 2013 “Cole Memo,” intended to recognize marijuana businesses in states where voters have approved them, and setting a framework for financial institutions to bank them. Financial institutions are reluctant to provide services, however, because there is still no federal law protecting them. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been critical of the businesses and of the Cole Memo.

The NCSL resolution asks Congress to solve the problem.

Currently, legal marijuana businesses unable to find banking services are operating with high volumes of cash.

“We applaud the state legislators for uniting on this critically important public safety issue,” said Paula Sardinas, Northwest Credit Union Association’s Vice President, Legislative Affairs, Washington. “Federal legislation is needed to address this issue so credit unions can seamlessly provide financial services to legal marijuana businesses.”

“The cannabis industry is making noteworthy contributions to Oregon’s economy, and it will be an important driver of economic growth and job creation in the future,” said Oregon State Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene). “I hear from small cannabis business owners across Oregon that access to capital and secure banking services are critical for their success. Removing marijuana from scheduling at the federal level will help these businesses to move away from cash-only operations, and will allow entrepreneurs to secure loans to start new businesses.”