U.S. House Poised to Address Access to Financial Services for Legal Cannabis Businesses

Maps Credit Union’s Rachel Pross will provide expert testimony at the Feb. 13 hearing.

Dollar bill and marijuana leaf

2/12/2019

The public safety and regulatory conflicts limiting access to financial services for cannabis businesses will get a long-awaited spotlight in Washington, D.C. Feb 13, when a House subcommittee holds a hearing on the issue.

The House Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions will explore, “Challenges and Solutions: Access to Banking Services for Cannabis-Related Businesses.”

Rachel Pross, Chief Risk Officer at Salem, Oregon-based Maps Credit Union, will provide expert testimony. Her credit union is one of a handful across the country working through regulatory red tape in order to service legal canna businesses.

“A handful of credit unions here in the Northwest have been stepping up to the plate since 2014 to serve cannabis businesses, because serving the underserved is part of our DNA,” Pross said. “A huge consideration for Maps was community safety. No one wants backpacks and shoeboxes full of cash being transported around the streets of the Willamette Valley. All opinions about cannabis policy aside, we simply believe that legal businesses in the State of Oregon should have access to the mainstream economy, and we’re proud to have been providing that access for the last five years.”

The Northwest Credit Union Association supports advocacy to eliminate federal and state legislative and regulatory barriers that prohibit or interfere with a credit union’s ability to serve legally registered businesses.

Efforts to pass federal legislation stalled in the previous Congress and under the administration of former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. With a balance of power change in the 116th Congress, the scheduling of Wednesday’s hearing may signal appetite for legislation that will remove some of the regulatory barriers for financial institutions.

The SAFE Act in was introduced in 2017 as one potential solution. Nine Northwest representatives are co-sponsoring that legislation.

Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA-10) has been working closely with Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-CO-7) on the issue for years.

 “Around one in four Americans find themselves living in a state where recreational use of marijuana is legal, and a vast majority of Americans live in a state where medical use of cannabis is permitted,” Heck said in a statement to NWCUA. “We are proposing reasonable changes to federal law so that this industry now making $11 billion a year in sales does not have to operate in all cash.”