DENVER (5/9/14)--The Mountain West Credit Union Association (MWCUA) has taken a neutral position on the Colorado General Assembly's vote Wednesday to create the first state-run financial cooperative for marijuana retail businesses in the U.S.
The co-ops are designed to provide newly legalized cannabis sellers access to key banking services through the U.S. Federal Reserve. (See related story: Wash. CU sets standards for serving marijuana businesses.)
The so-called "cannabis credit co-ops" would allow licensed marijuana businesses to pool resources, have checking accounts and take out loans. The co-ops would be able to make investments on behalf of their members in municipal bonds and certain other securities.
The league's primary concern was that a clear distinction exist between credit unions and the cannabis credit co-ops because the marijuana co-ops are not federally insured, said Austin DeBay, MWCUA vice president of legislative affairs.
"We wanted a clear distinction that there is a difference between what this co-op attempts to do and what a credit union does because credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration," DeBay told
. "We want it perfectly clear that the co-op has a limited scope of business."
Lawmakers from both parties supported the bill which Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is expected to sign into law.
The legislation will only go into effect if the U.S. Federal Reserve allows access to its services. "Whether or not that is going to happen still remains to be seen," DeBay said. 'It's an attempt at a state solution, but whether or not it is going to work is uncertain because they still need access to the Federal Reserve."