Credit Union Group Among Those Pushing for Marijuana Banking Progress
CUNA, along with politicians and attorneys general show support for enabling financial services to reach cannabis-related businesses
As Congress returns from its Spring recess, supporters of marijuana banking are pushing hard to ensure a competitiveness bill now in a House-Senate conference also allows financial institutions to offer services to cannabis-related businesses.
A key House sponsor of the measure, two state attorneys general and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) have all sent letters in recent days to key members of Congress pressing the issue.
The House has already passed legislation that would allow credit unions and banks to provide services to marijuana-related businesses in states where cannabis is legal. The Senate, however, has yet to consider the measure. Senate Democratic leaders have said they want to consider the banking proposal as part of a broader, comprehensive legalization bill.
Separately, the House has also approved a marijuana banking amendment to its high-profile competitiveness bill, which is considered must-pass legislation. The Senate version of the bill, however, does not currently include the provision, with a House-Senate conference committee in the process of negotiating over a final measure.
House Sponsor Calls for Immediate Action
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., the main House sponsor of marijuana banking legislation, sent a letter to senators who want to pass comprehensive marijuana measures asking that they first enact the banking statute.
“We all agree on the need to pass comprehensive legislation to reform our outdated, dangerous, and inequitable federal cannabis law,” Perlmutter wrote in his letter to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-NY; Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden D-Ore. and Sen Cory Booker, D-NJ. “As you know, cannabis reform legislation is a difficult task.”
Congressman Ed Perlmutter
Perlmutter further claimed the marijuana banking bill is an immediate solution to get cash off our states and ensure legitimate businesses are able to operate as any other legal business operates.
Attorneys General Cite Financial Benefits
In another letter to congressional leaders, Colorado Attorney General Philip Weiser and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wrote that an effective safe harbor for cannabis businesses would bring billions of dollars into the banking sector, and result in increased tax revenue.
Yost, a Republican and Weiser, a Democrat are co-chairs of the National Association of Attorneys General Federalism Committee.
Response from Credit Unions
CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle told congressional leaders the disparate treatment of the production, sale and use of cannabis has discouraged many credit unions from doing business with marijuana firms.
Nussle wrote in his letter that, as things now stand, a credit union might unknowingly offer services to a marijuana-related business and risk violating federal law.
He also added Perlmutter’s bill “provides safe harbor to credit unions and their employees who are not aware if their members or customers are involved in this business.”