What’s new with marijuana banking?

The complex legal and political landscape with respect to marijuana banking continues to shift.  At last count, 29 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have legalized medical marijuana.  Eight states and DC have also sanctioned adult-use recreational marijuana, with California becoming the latest and largest state to begin legal sales of recreational marijuana in January.  Massachusetts and Maine will soon follow suit later this year.  However, since marijuana remains federally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, federal criminal statutes continue to be implicated for credit unions handling marijuana-related funds.

Here’s what’s new with marijuana banking—

Effect of policy shift remains unclear

 On January 4, the attorney general issued a memorandum to direct federal prosecutors to return to “previously established prosecutorial principles,” in marijuana enforcement, thus eliminating the Obama-era directives (See, 2013 and 2014 Cole Memos) that provided some degree of guidance for credit unions in navigating the conflict between federal illegality and state legality of marijuana.


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