Cannabis & banking: What are the implications?

Federal government’s inaction has created ‘untenable uncertainty’ in the banking system.

Although 30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of cannabis, and 400 U.S. financial institutions provide accounts for marijuana-related businesses (MRBs), the federal government still classifies the drug as a prohibited Schedule 1 narcotic alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.

“This has created an untenable uncertainty in the banking system,” says Brian Knight, executive vice president and general counsel for the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors. “Congress needs to address this either way so we know what the rules are and we can move forward.”

Knight addressed the 2018 CUNA CFO Council Conference Tuesday in Austin, Texas.

Regardless of whether credit unions plan to serve MRBs, they need to understand the implications of their decision, he says. “Those of you who are out have more to consider than those who are in. Those who are out need to think about what ‘no’ means.”


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