WASHINGTON–Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have introduced a bipartisan bill that would allow states to regulate marijuana without federal interference.
Credit union trade associations in both states have announced support for the legislation.
Both Massachusetts and Colorado have legalized recreational pot and the bill, the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, would amend the Controlled Substances Act to include a framework that says it no longer applies to those following state, territory or tribal laws “relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of [marijuana]."
Colorado is home to Safe Harbor Private Banking, a CUSO of Partner Colorado Credit Union, that provides financial services to the cannabis industry and is one of the largest operations of its kind in financial services. Its CEO, Sundie Seefried, has been a frequent presenter to credit unions discussing the challenges the CUSO and the businesses it serves face as marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
During a press conference announcing the new bill, Gardner described outlawing legalized pot as similar to “putting the ketchup back in the bottle.”
“This city of Denver, the state of Colorado, can collect taxes … they can take it to the bank,” Gardner said. “But if you’re in the business, if you work for the business, you can’t get a bank loan or set up a bank account because of the concern over the conflict between the state and federal law. We need to fix this public hypocrisy.”
Recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in another 29.
Following the announcement of the STATES Act, both the Mountain West CU Association, which includes Colorado, and the Maine Credit Union League sent a letter to the senators expressing their support.
MWCUA President and CEO Scott Earl co-authored the letter with Todd Mason, president and CEO of the Maine Credit Union League.
“As financial services providers serving over four-million members in the states we represent, credit unions play a central role in our communities by fulfilling banking needs that may not be otherwise available,” said Earl.
Added Mason, “Currently, we cannot serve an industry that generates several billion dollars in sales and tax revenues—the recreational cannabis industry—without substantial risk due to ongoing uncertainty over federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act. This has become not only a states' rights issue, but an important public safety issue.”