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Credit Union Could Serve Pot Business―If The Fed Says Yes

A new credit union in Colorado formed specifically to serve legal marijuana businesses could be a turning point for the fledgling pot industry, according to CNN.

Fourth Corner Credit Union is waiting for final approval from the Federal Reserve, which could come through and allow the credit union to open in January. Colorado banking regulators granted Fourth Corner a charter in November.

The credit union is supported by a group of attorneys, business owners and legalization advocates who see an opportunity where traditional bankers see only potential legal problems. While marijuana use is legal in Colorado and 22 other states, it is still illegal under federal law. And because financial institutions are responsible for monitoring their customers’ behavior and reporting suspicious or criminal activity, that could put banks with marijuana-vending customers at legal risk.

Handling business finances through a credit union “will be much safer than the cash-based operation that exists today,” said Fourth Corner founding member Mark Mason. “The feds should be thrilled.”

For marijuana business owners, working through a credit union will mean the ability to issue employees paychecks and accept payment cards, which would make tracking the money more transparent. It will also improve security (since it will remove the need for the currently all-cash businesses to keep large amounts of cash on hand), and save time and expense for the businesses. One business owner said she has an entire team dedicated to keeping track of the cash, and double and triple checking handwritten ledgers.

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