The Fourth Corner Credit Union fights in court to become the world’s first cannabis bank

At a U.S. District Court session Monday, Judge R. Brooke Jackson heard arguments related to the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, drug money and narcoterrorism. But he wasn’t presiding over a drug-trafficking or distribution case. He was listening to oral arguments in a banking lawsuit.

While banking usually isn’t the most exciting of legal topics — at one point during the hearing, Mark Mason, attorney for the plaintiffs, admitted to the judge that banking is “boring as hell” — this particular lawsuit is a high-stakes, carefully watched affair. “This transcript is going to be read around the world and your decision will have an effect around the United States in a major, major way,” Mason said during his argument.

That’s because the people behind the suit are the founders of the Fourth Corner Credit Union, which aims to become the world’s first bank focused on the marijuana industry, and they’re suing the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank for the right to do so. But there’s more at stake than simply the fate of a new credit union: The results of the case could have far-reaching consequences for a nascent cannabis industry that experts of all political stripes agree is dangerously lacking in proper financial services.

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