WASHINGTON (5/29/14)--Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have asked the federal financial institution regulators for guidance on marijuana business banking. The governors wrote a letter this week to the National Credit Union Administration, Federal Reserve, Office of the Controller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
The letter follows one sent in October 2013 by the two governors with a similar request for guidance.
"Banks and credit unions in Colorado and Washington are waiting for the Federal Banking Agencies to furnish the instructions given to bank and credit union examiners before deciding whether and how to provide banking services to state-licensed recreational marijuana businesses," the letter reads. "In the meantime, product sales have begun in Colorado and will soon being in Washington, exposing all involved to the significant risks of criminal activity associated with accepting, storing and transporting large quantities of cash that can be ameliorated by access to the banking system."
According to May 27 report in The Denver Post, financial institutions in both states are more worried about penalties from financial regulators than from prosecutors, fearing the effects and penalties that regulators could impose.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued guidance in February that advised anyone providing financial services to marijuana-related business to assess the risk with due diligence that includes:
News Now reported earlier this month that Spokane Valley, Wash.-based Numerica CU, with $1.3 billion in assets, would be the first financial institution in the country to accept marijuana-based business. Businesses that grow or process cannabis can manage finances there, but retailers cannot. (See News Now May 9: "Wash. CU sets standards for serving marijuana businesses.")
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