House Financial Services Committee Schedules First Hearing on Banking for Cannabis Businesses

Cannabis Law Alert

February 12, 2019

Louis Mendez
Jaime H. Scivley

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The Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee has scheduled the first of its hearings meant to reevaluate the federal government’s position on cannabis businesses. Titled “Challenges and Solutions: Access to Banking Services for Cannabis-Related Businesses,” the hearing is set for February 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern. The hearing is intended to examine the legal and practical barriers that cannabis-related businesses face in opening and maintaining bank accounts.

Cannabis has been legalized for adult-use in 10 states and Washington D.C., and for medicinal use in an additional 23 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Despite the expansion of the adult-use and medicinal market, cannabis remains prohibited under federal law. As a result, many financial services companies have been reluctant to work with cannabis-related businesses for fear of running afoul of federal anti-money laundering and other laws. The Obama administration’s 2014 guidance—which was intended to make it easier for banks to do business with legal marijuana dispensers and directed U.S. attorneys not to pursue banks that adhered to certain guidelines—has done little to quell industry fears. Therefore, the majority of cannabis-related businesses have continued to operate as cash businesses, which has been problematic for many reasons, including the fact that it makes these businesses potential targets for theft and violent crime.  The hearing is the first indication that the newly elected Democratic House will consider formal access to the financial markets for this rapidly developing industry.

A live broadcast of the hearing will be available here. The witnesses for the upcoming hearing are:

  • The Honorable Fiona Ma, California State Treasurer
  • Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), Baltimore City & Maryland State Police Departments, and Executive Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)
  • Ms. Rachel Pross, Chief Risk Officer, Maps Credit Union, on behalf of Credit Union National Association (CUNA)
  • Mr. Gregory S. Deckard, President, CEO and Chairman, State Bank Northwest, on behalf of Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA)
  • Mr. Corey Barnette, Owner, District Growers Cultivation Center & Metropolitan Wellness Center