Last week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his support for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. New York Credit Union Association President/CEO William J. Mellin wrote to Schumer to reiterate the Association’s support for a legislative solution to allow credit unions to serve the legal marijuana industry.
“Financial institutions have a key role to play in any discussion about the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana,” Mellin wrote. “Consequently, the New York Credit Union Association strongly supports legislation at the federal level so that credit unions and other institutions can serve the needs of the marijuana businesses without fear of prosecution.”
Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level even though a majority of states—including New York—authorize the legal use of marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes.
“Due to federal restrictions, this lucrative and increasingly sophisticated sector has been almost completely cut-off from financial services, and the industry as a whole still generally operates on a cash-based system,” explained Mellin. “Denying large and growing businesses a safe place to store funds and process transactions is a public safety issue, and it simply makes no sense.”
He concluded: “In short, there is a critical need for financial services in the marijuana industry, and New York’s credit unions are well-positioned to fill this void. I urge you to consider the state’s credit unions and the role they can play in solving the marijuana-banking issue in any legislation you sponsor.”
Mellin’s comments reflect the Association’s formal stance on marijuana banking, which was put forth and approved by the Association’s Governmental Affairs Committee last year.