Cash crop

Credit union innovators boost the learning curve on cannabis banking.

Maps Credit Union in Salem, Ore., has helped remove millions of dollars in cash from the streets by providing basic banking services for cannabis-based businesses, says Rachel Pross, chief risk officer.

In the fall of 2013, James Collins heard gunshots while relaxing at his home in Central Washington. It turns out a neighbor had an illegal marijuana grow operation, attracting three armed men who showed up at his house.

“They weren’t after his crop; they were after his cash,” recalls Collins, president/CEO at $301 million asset O Bee Credit Union in Tumwater, Wash.

The experience underscores the public safety hazards created with the presence of cash businesses—particularly high-volume cannabis dispensaries.

Serving these types of businesses remains a murky prospect from a legal standpoint, at least on the federal level. Recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, while medical marijuana is legal in more than 30 states, according to Business Insider.


continue reading »