December 09, 2022

Berger to Congress: End year with ‘commonsense win’ on marijuana banking

Dan BergerIn a new op-ed for CUInsight, NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger urged lawmakers to pass “legislation that has broad bipartisan, industry, and public support” to end the year with a “commonsense win.” That legislation: the NAFCU-backed Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.

“This legislation would provide greater clarity and legal certainty at the federal level for credit unions that choose to provide financial services to state-authorized marijuana-related businesses (MRBs) and ancillary businesses that serve them in states that have legalized marijuana,” Berger wrote. “It has passed the house seven times in the past four years, but has yet to clear the Senate.”

Berger explained that this legislation has nothing to do with legalizing marijuana at the federal level, but as roughly three-quarters of the country have legalized at least medical marijuana use, “comprehensive clarity is essential at this point.”

A core concern of marijuana businesses in these legalized states is how they are going to safely and securely access financial services,” Berger noted. “Many of these businesses operate as cash-only, having no option to deposit money or process transactions as financial institutions are prohibited at the federal level from serving them. This can lead to increased crime and limited growth opportunities for these businesses…

“We’ve heard from many of our members that they are being approached by MRBs and are ready to serve them but are held back by the potential for prosecution under federal money laundering statutes and other laws,” Berger said.

Read Berger’s full op-ed online. NAFCU will continue advocating in support of this legislation as Congress works on the end-of-year federal funding omnibus package. The association also has an issue brief outlining a number of the top concerns related to marijuana banking.