WASHINGTON (7/13/15)--Legislation to allow legal marijuana-based businesses to access financial services was introduced last week by a bipartisan group of senators.
All four senators from Colorado and Oregon, where such businesses can legally operate, introduced the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2015.
Currently, marijuana businesses operating under state laws that have legalized medicinal or recreational marijuana have been mostly denied access to the mainstream financial system because institutions that provide financial services can be prosecuted under federal law. This has led many of these businesses to operate using large amounts of cash, creating safety risks and making taxation difficult.
The bill creates a safe harbor from criminal prosecution and liability and asset forfeiture for institutions and their officers and employees who provide financial services to legitimate, state-sanctioned marijuana businesses, while maintaining the right to choose not to offer those services.
It would also prevent federal banking regulators from:
Financial institutions would still be requires to comply with current Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance, while at the same time allowing FinCEN guidance to be streamlined over time as states and the federal government adapt to legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana policies.
Serving emerging businesses such as legal, marijuana-based ones will be the subject of a breakout session at this week's upcoming America’s Credit Union Conference and World Credit Union Conference. Watch News Now, Credit Union Magazine and news.cuna.org for continuing coverage of the conference this week.