NAFCU’s Schafer gives insights into marijuana banking landscape

Will credit unions receive more guidance and clarity related to providing financial services to marijuana-related businesses (MRBs) this year? NAFCU Regulatory Affairs Counsel Kaley Schafer, in a new Compliance Blog post, reviews the current landscape and provides insights into how the presidential election could impact the possibility of federal legislation.

In conjunction with this blog, NAFCU has released an updated issue brief that provides credit unions with comprehensive, up-to-date information on federal legislative efforts and state-level marijuana laws.

Schafer notes that the House last year passed the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, designed to provide a safe harbor for credit unions and other lenders that serve MRBs in states that have legalized the drug. In addition, the NCUA was the first financial services regulator to issue interim guidance allowing federally insured credit unions to provide certain financial services to legally-operating hemp businesses as hemp-derived products became legal at the federal level under the 2018 Farm Bill. Other banking regulators later released similar guidance after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an interim final rule in October that outlines provisions for legal hemp production.

“Despite this movement, the future of a federal safe harbor to bank MRBs remains hazy (pun intended),” Schafer writes. “Given the Senate’s current stance on House-passed legislation, the fact that 2020 is an election year, and there may be bigger fish to fry, we may not see the successful passage of legislation. But, if we see a shift in Democratic control of the Senate, then it is very possible that legislation may be passed in 2021.”


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