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Marijuana Banking Would Boost CU Deposits by $350 Million Over 10 Years: CBO

(From Credit Union Times) – A House bill that would provide financial institutions with a safe harbor to serve marijuana-related businesses would boost deposits at credit unions by an estimated $350 million over the next ten years if it is enacted, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Insured deposits at banks would increase by about $1.2 billion, CBO said, in its evaluation of H.R. 1595, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado and Denny Heck of Washington.

The increase in deposits would result from federal regulators allowing financial institutions to conduct business with the firms without the fear of sanctions.

Because under federal law, cannabis is illegal, credit unions and banks risk regulatory penalties if they provide services to marijuana-related businesses, even in states where it is legal under state law.

H.R. 1595 would provide those institutions with a safe harbor for conducting that business.

The CBO said that costs that financial regulators would face as a result of administrative costs or the failure of an institution largely would be offset by the fees financial institutions pay regulators.  CUNA and the American Bankers Association have endorsed H.R. 1595, while NAFCU has said that the issue needs additional examination.

The House Financial Services Committee has approved H.R. 1595, but the full House has not considered it yet. It faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where Republican leaders have expressed concerns about providing the safe harbor while marijuana is still illegal under federal law.