CU 2.0 Podcast 19: Up in Smoke, Credit Unions and Cannabis, Part 1

It’s the Credit Union podcast! CU 2.0 is excited to bring you the nineteenth in a series of podcasts from Robert McGarvey. Welcome to the CU 2.0 Podcast, regular interviews with credit union leaders, thinkers, movers, shakers and more.

Call this podcast Up In Smoke, Credit Union Style. The more formal moniker: Cannabis and Credit Unions: The Opportunities and Risks, Part 1. That’s right. There is also a Part 2 because there just is so much to report about cannabis and financial institutions.

In Part 1, you will hear from a couple of lawyers, a cannabis lobbyist, a pair of credit union consultants, and more. Why the hubbub about a little weed? For one, a commonly tossed around market size estimate is $50 billion in the US and much of that is unbanked cash. For two, there are big differences between state laws regarding cannabis and federal. In two-thirds of the states, cannabis is legal – either for medical uses or, in some cases such as California and Colorado, for any use. That’s right. Recreational use is legal in some states. And yet marijuana remains illegal in federal law.

There’s the sticking point. Pragmatically speaking, few oppose medical use of marijuana. But many still oppose recreational use of it. So what happens if the federal government comes in and arrests a bunch of credit union employees for drug trafficking? Don’t say it can’t happen because it could. Is it probable?

Right now credit union executives are wrestling with exactly such questions. Answers don’t come easily. Know this, however: around 110 credit unions now have marijuana-related businesses as members. The core argument for doing this is that it’s good for the community.  It takes cash off the streets and it also helps small, local businesses stabilize. The only downside is that marijuana remains illegal in federal law. Uggh.

There’s the dilemma. A credit union can do a lot of good by plunging into the marijuana business. But it also may be risking all. Thus this podcast series.  There may be no knottier problem for credit unions than marijuana. There is information to know and that’s what we are delivering.  In a two-part series.

In Part 1, you will hear a range of viewpoints.  Listen to the end so you hear all the perspectives. It’s a 45-minute podcast but the content is rich. In Part 2 you will hear in some depth from the Connecticut Credit Union League, which is helping its members serve marijuana businesses, and also Safe Harbor, started by credit union veteran Sundie Seefried to help financial institutions serve the needs of marijuana businesses. And then what will you decide to do? Listen up to make smart choices.

Click the photo below to listen now!

credit union podcast marijuana banking

Check out other podcasts in the series here!