Colorado Launches Cannabis Banking Reform Efforts
Colorado lawmakers and other state officials have launched several campaigns aimed at providing more guidance and protection for financial institutions that serve the state’s legal cannabis industry, according to a Westword report.
While federal prohibition continues to deter financial institutions from working with state-legal cannabis businesses, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) have announced initiatives to “increase the number of financial service providers in Colorado who serve the state’s legal marijuana and industrial hemp industries,” the news outlet reported.
Polis and DORA have released a new report titled “Roadmap to Cannabis Banking and Financial Services,” which outlines their goals of providing regulatory guidance and reducing barriers to loans, lines of credit and account access for cannabis businesses. The report also includes strategies to help banks serve the industry without violating federal drug, money laundering and racketeering laws, Westword reported.
To achieve these goals, the report suggests regular meetings for stakeholders, as well as exploring new ways that financial institutions can serve cannabis businesses through money transferring, pushing for more federal protections, and working with state-chartered banks and credit unions.
Colorado Reps. Matt Gray and Hugh McKean have introduced a bill, H.B. 1217, which would allow state-chartered banks and credit unions to loan money to cannabis business owners, Westword reported. Although the legislation would protect financial institutions at the state level, larger banks with national operations would still need guidance from the federal government before providing services to the cannabis industry, according to the news outlet.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, primarily sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, would provide this guidance by ultimately providing a safe harbor for financial institutions that work with cannabis clients. The legislation passed the U.S. House in September, but the Senate has yet to take action on the bill. Perlmutter and other representatives who co-sponsored the legislation submitted a letter to Senate committee chairman Mike Crapo last month to address his concerns about the bill and to urge him to approve it without further delay.