House Committee Considers Access to Financial Services for Legal Canna Businesses

Maps Credit Union’s Rachel Pross testifies at House hearing examining cannabis banking.

2/19/2019

Rachel Pross

Rachel Pross, Chief Risk Officer at Salem, Oregon-based Maps Credit Union, testifies at a U.S. House Financial Services Committee hearing Feb. 13.

A first step toward possible federal legislation that will allow credit unions to serve legal marijuana-related businesses more freely was taken at a U.S. House Financial Services Committee hearing Feb. 13.

Rachel Pross, Chief Risk Officer at Salem, Oregon-based Maps Credit Union provided expert testimony. Maps has been serving legal canna businesses since 2014.

“In terms of safety, statistics show that cash-only businesses increase the risk of crime. This is especially true in the cannabis sector given the lack of access to basic financial services,” Pross testified. “A 2015 study found that, in the absence of being banked, on in every two cannabis dispensaries were robbed or burglarized. Compare that to Maps—in the past two years, we have received over $500 million dollars in cash deposits from cannabis businesses. That’s $500 million dollars removed from Oregon’s sidewalks that used to be carried around in backpacks and shoeboxes by legitimate, legal business owners.”

Pross also told the committee about the compliance burden. Maps employs one employee for every 40 cannabis businesses.

Pross’ testimony was arranged by the Credit Union National Association. She thanked CUNA and her credit union for giving her the opportunity to testify in Congress about such an important issue.

“We’re grateful to Rachel and to Maps, not only for their leadership in successfully serving legal canna businesses, but also for clearly articulating to Congress the public safety issue those businesses face without access to financial services,” said Samantha Beeler, Vice President of Advocacy for the Northwest Credit Union Association.

Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA-10) has co-sponsored canna banking legislation in every Congress since 2013.

“We listened to hours of testimony today about the dangerous position we put store owners and employees in by forcing them to do all of their business in cash. We can fix this. We don’t have to force them to operate in a way that makes it difficult to secure and track their funds,” said Heck.

During the hearing, Heck, Rep. Edwin Perlmutter (D-CO-7), Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15), and Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH-8) shared a discussion draft of a 2019 bill they intend to introduce in Congress later this month.

“Today’s hearing was a big deal for the thousands of employees, businesses, and communities across this country who have been put at risk because they have been forced to deal in piles of cash while Congress sticks its head in the sand,” said Perlmutter. “The American voters have spoken and continue to speak, and the fact is you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. The SAFE Banking Act is focused solely on taking cash off the streets and making our communities safer, and only Congress can take these steps to provide this certainty for businesses and financial institutions across the country.