NCUA and FDIC Take Opposing Positions on Marijuana Banking

Two financial regulators—the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation—are taking differing positions on whether institutions under their supervision are safe to provide services to marijuana-related companies.

FDIC Chairwoman Jelena McWilliams last week told Crain’s Detroit Business that “it’s illegal to bank marijuana.” She added that she cannot “bless them and say, ‘go ahead and do it.’”

NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood took a different approach last year, telling The Credit Union Times that credit unions will not be sanctioned for conducting business with marijuana-related firms. He said that it is a business decision for credit unions and that the NCUA would not micromanage financial institutions the agency supervises.

He said that credit unions still have to follow Financial Crimes Enforcement Network rules, which requires credit unions and other financial institutions to file Suspicious Activity Reports.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, although several states have legalized it. That discrepancy has led to problems in the financial services business. Financial institutions still may be cited for doing business with marijuana-related firms. This has caused a major problem for cannabis-related firms, with their owners saying they must conduct an all-cash business.

The House has passed legislation that would provide financial institutions with a safe harbor for providing services to those companies. The bill remains stalled in the Senate, where Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Id.) has expressed strong reservations to it.


Jelena McWilliams interview in Crain’s Detroit Business

Rodney Hood interview in The Credit Union Times

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