It’s been over 16 months now since the issuance of the much-debated Cole Memo by the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, which indicated federal authorities were unlikely to waste resources on legal marijuana businesses that ensured they maintained strict adherence to the eight priority areas outlined in the memorandum. Those areas include keeping legal marijuana away from minors and not funneling proceeds to other states. Now, the country’s first state-sanctioned cannabis bank is poised to open their doors for business at any time.
Having received its state charter in November, The Fourth Corner Credit Union hopes to open its doors within weeks in Denver. They are currently awaiting the issuance of a master account number by the Federal Reserve, which owners expect to come any day . FCCU will be accepting cash deposits and will allow members to make electronic transfers for payroll and rent and pay bills without carrying large sums of cash to vendors. “We are on the one-yard line,” said Mark Mason, an attorney for the credit union told USA Today.
Access to banking services could be a game changer for Colorado marijuana store owners, many of whom have been forced to hire armed security guards to handle their cash and pay their bills. It will also ease the mind of business owners who currently do have bank accounts but had to lie (or bend the truth) to get one open, and who have to be extra diligent to remove the smell of marijuana from the piles of cash that their dispensary accepts before it is deposited into the bank.
FCCU should serve as a model for other state banking regulatory authorities to begin to create a blueprint to immediately solve their own states’ legal marijuana banking issues, but is only a stop-gap until marijuana is completely removed from the DEA’s Schedule I designation. Once this occurs we will surely see immediate interest from the mainstream corporate-owned banks. After all, who better to handle the nation’s legal marijuana money than the very banks that knowingly launder billions of dollars in drug cartel money every year?