Cannabis Shop

May 1, 2014; Denver Post

Colorado legislators have proposed the creation of local nonprofit financial-service cooperatives—the business equivalent of a credit union—for legal marijuana shops as a way to force federal authorities to finally decide whether the pot industry can access critical banking services.

The Denver Post reports that, in a unique twist on the credit-union concept, a state representative has introduced a bill that would create “cannabis credit co-ops” for licensed pot businesses and those businesses that buy and sell with them.

“This sets up a new type of financial structure to bridge the gap we’re seeing between banking and the marijuana industry,” Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Boulder) said before the bill passed through its first committee hurdle.

While the bill allows the creation of co-ops similar to a credit union, their access to the nation’s financial banking system requires approval from the Federal Reserve Bank—without it, they don’t work. Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, some bankers doubt the system will gain that Federal Reserve approval. Since it’s ultimately up to Congress, as banking experts tell the Post, Singer’s approach is to send a message to the federal government that the state has a template in place that it can approve. The Colorado Bankers Association