February 03, 2022

NAFCU offers support for the inclusion of marijuana banking legislation in the America COMPETES Act

CapitolNAFCU Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler Wednesday wrote to the House to offer support for the inclusion of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act as an amendment to the America COMPETES Act as the House considers the package this week.

In the letter, Thaler noted that NAFCU member credit unions in states that have authorized varying degrees of marijuana use are being approached by members, or potential members, seeking banking services for small businesses that serve the legal cannabis industry.

For financial institutions like credit unions, there are additional regulatory challenges that compound the uncertainty of providing financial services to state-authorized marijuana-related businesses (MRBs), noted Thaler.

"These go beyond just concerns about criminal or civil penalties, but also extend to requirements related to proper suspicious activity report (SAR) and anti-money laundering (AML) filings as related to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), access to federal deposit insurance and a Federal Reserve master account, and even potential issues with the Internal Revenue Service," wrote Thaler. "Missteps in these areas could prove devastating to an institution."

Though NAFCU does not have, and is not taking, a position on the broader question of the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana at any degree at the federal or state level, Thaler offered support for Congress taking steps found in the SAFE Banking Act to provide greater clarity and legal certainty at the federal level for credit unions that choose to provide financial services to state-authorized MRBs and ancillary businesses that may serve those businesses in states where such activity is legal.

NAFCU in 2021 updated its Marijuana Banking Issue Brief, where an update on the SAFE Banking Act is included.

Read Thaler’s full letter. The association will continue to keep credit unions updated of legislative and regulatory changes that could impact their operating environment.