WASHINGTON—Credit unions in a number of states where cannabis has been legalized are searching for direction following an announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding a number of policies that had allowed legalized marijuana to flourish.
Those credit unions have been walking very fine lines between state laws that permit marijuana and federal law, which does not. With Sessions saying the Justice Department’s new position will be to allow federal prosecutors where marijuana is legal to decide how aggressively to enforce federal law, an already murky area has become murkier—and potentially more threatening—for those CUs and CUSOs serving the cannabis industry.
The previous policy, established under the Obama Administration, generally barred federal law enforcement officials from interfering with marijuana sales in states where the drug is legal.
As CUToday.info has reported here, credit unions and other financial institutions serving the cannabis industry have been following the so-called “Cole Memo” written by then Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, which had clarified some of the uncertainty about how the federal government would respond as states began allowing sales for recreational and medical purposes.
Sessions announced the Cole Memo has now been rescinded.
Among the credit unions that have been most active in serving the cannabis industry have been Partner Colorado CU, which created a CUSO, Safe Harbor Private Banking, specifically for the cannabis industry, and Salal Credit Union in Seattle.
Watch CUToday.info for additional reporting.