Hundreds Of Cannabis Businesses Working With Banks In Colorado

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s cannabis industry has had a chief request since marijuana was legalized: Give us access to banks.

But it turns out that hundreds of the state’s pot businesses are already working with financial institutions under the close watch of federal regulators, even though marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. As many as 35 banks and credit unions offer services to the industry that has made $6.5 billion in sales in Colorado since 2014, according to the Colorado Bankers Association.

Most financial institutions are secretive about their business relationships with companies that grow and sell marijuana legally, limiting the number of customers they will take on and asking their clients to sign nondisclosure agreements, said Amanda Averch, a spokeswoman for the bankers association.

“They’re serving this business, effectively, anonymously,” she said.

Legislation that passed the U.S. House with broad bipartisan support last week, and championed by Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, aims to bring marijuana banking into the mainstream, providing permanent federal protections for financial institutions that choose to work with the pot industry.

Cannabis business now are almost exclusively cash enterprises. The so-called SAFE Banking Act would allow them to accept credit cards from customers

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