Momentum building in banking industry for support of federal marijuana reform
Banking trade groups are stepping up their support for proposed legislation and seeking better clarity from the federal government about how financial institutions might serve cannabis-related businesses in states where marijuana is legal. The groups represent institutions that in total manage trillions of dollars of assets. They see the huge potential of providing banking services to the MJ industry but are seeking legal assurances they won’t be prosecuted for their efforts. The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) recently expressed support for the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act that would protect banks serving legal marijuana businesses. ICBA represents nearly 5,700 community banks of various sizes and charter types. The American Bankers Association (ABA) – which has thousands of members nationwide, including federally chartered banks – also wants legal clarity from Congress on the conflict between federal law and state-legal marijuana programs, according to a report by Politico. ABA did not immediately respond to Marijuana Business Daily for further comment. In addition, a number of banking groups recently endorsed legislation by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado that would protect state-legal marijuana programs and, in essence, also resolve banking issues in those states. Those groups include: The Cooperative Credit Union Association: 190 credit unions in Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Massachusetts Bankers Association: 150 banks of all sizes and charters. Maine Credit Union League. Mountain West Credit Union Association: 126 credit unions in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming. Northwest Credit Union Association: 180 credit unions in Idaho, Oregon and Washington state, with associate members in Alaska and Hawaii. The recent endorsements by financial institutions are prompted in part by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ continued rhetoric that the Justice Department intends to enforce federal drug laws.