Marijuana laws, regulations should be clarified, NCUA’s Hood says

It is time for federal action to “clarify and harmonize” the laws and regulations surrounding the state-legal cannabis industry and marijuana-related businesses so that this industry can take part in the legitimate financial services industry, Rodney Hood, NCUA boardmember and former chairman said on Friday.

In remarks made to the Payments, Banking, Compliance in the Cannabis Industry, Hood stated that “simply a remarkable social and cultural change that has taken place right before our eyes,” and that yet, while this revolution has unfolded, federal law surrounding marijuana and cannabis-derived products has barely changed.

“There have been some welcome changes at the federal level, like delisting hemp from the list of controlled substances in the 2018 Farm Bill, but even those changes have been slow to arrive and relatively marginal,” Hood said. “And there’s been no meaningful legal change on the federal level when it comes to marijuana, despite all the rhetoric around marijuana legalization federally.”

He said that the NCUA, which regulates more than 5,000 credit unions, only 169 of those are providing services to one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, which can only be described as “a serious market failure.”

Regarding cannabis banking, Hood outlined three steps he said he thinks should be taken moving forward:

  • the NCUA’s working group on cannabis banking should determine what can be done next to better address the challenges credit unions face regarding cannabis banking;
  • a formal working group on the part of financial regulators should be developed to take the lead on the issue to start developing a principles-based approach to cannabis banking, ideally the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council; and
  • Congress should take action to address cannabis banking “as the 2014 FinCEN guidelines are simply not enough to support what hemp and cannabis businesses need to grow and sustain.”

Hood’s full remarks can be accessed on the NCUA website.

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