DENVER (1/12/12)--Two state lawmakers in Colorado say they plan to introduce next week a bill that would allow the state's medical-marijuana industry to form a "financial cooperative" that would act like a credit union.
State Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver) and state Rep. Tom Massey (R-Poncha Springs) announced their proposed bill would provide banking services to medical-marijuana businesses, with membership limited to industry members (Denver Post (Jan. 11). However, they said, the institution would be free of the kinds of federal insurance requirements existing with banks and credit unions, making them reluctant to work with medical-marijuana businesses.
The lawmakers said difficulty in finding banking services is an ongoing complaint in the industry. Steadman indicated the inability to have a financial institution for banking hinders regulatory enforcement. Instead of relying on piles of cash, a financial cooperative could provide a paper trail for regulation, he told the newspaper.
A bank that had worked with the dispensaries closed those accounts in October, followed by other closures from institutions that were wary of a federal law making distribution of the drug illegal. The bill is a top priority for the Medical Marijuana Industry Group in this legislative session, which began Wednesday, according to the newspaper.