Colorado creates nation’s first pot financial cooperative


Banks in the United States love money, except marijuana money. For years state-legal marijuana operations have struggled to find banks that will take their accounts out of fear of federal action for supporting a federally illegal industry.
Those issues may now be a thing of the past in Colorado at least, as the state legislature yesterday gave approval to a Colorado pot credit union of sorts, that will give medical and recreational marijuana businesses access to otherwise normal banking services.

The approval came on the last day of the state legislative session, a session that has been packed with marijuana legislation aimed at curtailing otherwise legal access. The banking bill is a welcome piece of legislation by members of the industry, who have had to switch from bank to bank to bank over the last few years. The move is also one of safety, as dispensaries have had to become cash-only businesses over the last few years – making them targets of robberies and theft.
Lawmakers say that banking services will help with industry transparency and show the feds that money can be tightly controlled.
“This is the final piece to our pot puzzle,” said state Rep. Jonathan Singer, who sponsored the bill. The legislation is now headed to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper for signing.
The bill creates a financial cooperative similar to a credit union, but without the federal deposit insurance requirement of other banks and credit unions around the country. The state financial services commissioner would be in charge of the pot bank. The move will allow for deposits and withdrawals, but services like credit cards and checking accounts would still require federal approval.