‘Roadmap to cannabis banking and financial services’ unveiled

‘Roadmap to cannabis banking and financial services’ unveiled
© iStock/OlegMalyshev

Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) have released a roadmap to cannabis banking for state-chartered financial services industries that serve legal cannabis-related businesses.

The ‘Roadmap to Cannabis Banking & Financial Services’ was unveiled at Partnership Colorado Credit Union in Arvada.

Joined by Department of Regulatory Agencies’ (DORA’s) Executive Director Patty Salazar, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, Treasurer Dave Young and Sundie Seefried, CEO of Partner Colorado Credit Union, Governor Polis unveiled the programme, which aims to provide clarity and guidance, and increase the number of financial service providers in Colorado who serve the state’s legal cannabis and industrial hemp industries.

“As a credit union, we saw the need to help pioneer a way to offer basic banking services to the cannabis industry to safeguard communities and our monetary system.  Fortunately, the state of Colorado shared these goals,” said Sundie Seefried, CEO of Partner Colorado Credit Union.

 A roadmap to cannabis banking

Under the leadership of DORA’s Executive Director Patty Salazar, two DORA divisions have been the primary drivers of this initiative: the Division of Banking, which is responsible for the regulation of state-chartered commercial banks, trust companies, and state-licensed money transmitters; and the Division of Financial Services, which is responsible for the regulation of state-chartered credit unions and savings and loan institutions.

Governor Jared Polis, said: “As the first state to establish a legal marijuana industry and one of the first to implement an industrial hemp programme, Colorado has become a national economic leader in the cannabis industry.

“We are excited to release a bold, forward-thinking roadmap to provide much-needed guidance, clarity and support to state-chartered financial service providers that work with or are interested in working with the state-legal cannabis industry.” 

The roadmap’s seven primary areas of focus include providing clear regulatory guidance, encouraging new and emerging technologies in the banking and financial services space, reducing barriers while upholding consumer protection guardrails, and demonstrating state support for financial businesses wishing to explore cannabis banking.

DORA Executive Director Patty Salazar, said: “The lack of federal clarity creates a level of uncertainty and apprehension for our Colorado state-chartered banks and credit unions to provide basic financial services to legal cannabis-related businesses.

“This roadmap is designed to lay out a path whereby our state-chartered financial institutions can explore whether or not they are in a position to provide services to this industry.”

Improving access to the financial industry

The Governor was also joined by Congressman Ed Perlmutter, the lead sponsor of landmark legislation to reform federal cannabis laws and reduce the public safety risk in communities across the country. H.R. 1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Act of 2019 (SAFE Banking Act).

The bill passed the US House with overwhelming bipartisan support and currently awaits action in the US Senate.

“Unbanked cannabis businesses often operate solely in cash, creating a significant risk to public safety,” said Treasurer Dave Young.

“By providing essential banking services to cannabis businesses, Colorado can lead the way in protecting public safety and promoting financial transparency.”

Congressman Ed Perlmutter added: Too many Colorado businesses, employees and communities have been targets of assault, robbery and other crimes due to the conflict between state and federal law when it comes to cannabis banking.

“I appreciate Governor Polis and his team working to improve access to the financial industry for Colorado cannabis and cannabis-related businesses. However, it is critical that Congress acts, including by advancing the SAFE Banking Act. Only by aligning state and federal law can we fully resolve the issues necessary to get cash off our streets and improve public safety in our communities.”

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