The cannabis industry has been unbanked and underserved for years, often resulting in adverse impacts on public safety in communities where cannabis is legal.
On Monday, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that New Mexico-based U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union is the first financial institution in the country to become certified for outstanding U.S. monetary banking protocols in banking cannabis and hemp operation.
The certification is part of a financial services certification program run by the Policy Center for Public Health & Safety in collaboration with state attorneys general as well as a broader certification effort being implemented by ASTM international and PH&S.
“The marijuana industry will soon be exploding in New Mexico, and it is important to have banking safeguards to mitigate illicit and criminal conduct, Balderas said. “This is an important first step in partnering with legally compliant businesses in the marketplace.”
Endorsed by Safe Harbor Financial, a subsidiary of Partner Colorado Credit Union,the certification brings banking and financial transparency to ensure the safety of the monetary system for institutions banking hemp and cannabis.
Marsha Majors, president and CEO of U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union, emphasized that credit unions “were chartered to serve the unbanked and underserved population.
“The cannabis industry has been unbanked and underserved for years, often resulting in adverse impacts on public safety in communities where cannabis is legal,” Majors added.
State and federal agencies accept the overall certification model as the standard of compliance and in implementing general risk mitigating strategies.
The curriculum focuses upon the following:
- The highest level of compliance standards, which will meet the expectations of BSA and FinCEN Guidelines.
- Mainstream depository options for cannabis-related entities, including both plant-touching and ancillary service providers, ensure accountability, transparency and reporting of the industry.
- Monitoring of internal activities of all personnel involved in the compliance program to ensure full compliance with processes that will protect U.S. Eagle.
- Monitoring cannabis clients to ensure they are internally prepared to prevent or implicate any enforcement priorities previously recorded in the Cole Memo and still referenced in the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Guidelines.
- Creating a transparent environment of all activities with examiners, auditors, and other third parties that work with the financial institutions to build comfort and understanding, ultimately improving processes in the long term.
- Joining a network of cannabis banking financial institutions that share and develop best practices surrounding cannabis banking and using this shared network to assist each other with safety and soundness.
- Digitizing financial transactions to the highest level possible to increase transparency.
- Ensuring records are thorough, easily navigated, and readily available to fulfill law enforcement demands such as subpoenas, inquiries.