Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would retract the department’s policy of not prosecuting properly run marijuana-based businesses in states that had passed laws allowing them to operate.
The decision affects an estimated 400 credit unions and banks that are currently serving the primarily cash-based industry.
At the federal level, marijuana remains in the category of the most tightly controlled drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. New York state permits prescription-based marijuana use for certain medical conditions.
New York Credit Union Association President/CEO William J. Mellin issued the following statement on the matter:
Credit unions and other financial institutions are faced with difficult choices when it comes to serving the marijuana industry. The decision by the Justice Department to rescind their policy on serving this industry makes it clear that providing banking services to marijuana-related businesses is a violation of federal law and the Bank Secrecy Act.
At the same time, states are moving in the opposite direction and permitting more and more marijuana businesses to operate.
The New York Credit Union Association stands by our position that a legislative solution is needed at the federal level so that credit unions and other institutions can serve the needs of the marijuana industry without fear of prosecution.