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Marijuana industry faces new challenge in banking - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Marijuana industry faces new challenge in banking

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DENVER -

The feds are refusing to take on a credit union based out of Denver committed to banking with marijuana businesses.

The Fourth Corner Credit Union has fired back and filed suit against them, actively seeking access to the payment system. They've filed two separate lawsuits, one against the NCUA to federally insure the bank and another against the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Until they can become federally insured, they can't take on any marijuana businesses. 

Marijuana may be legal in Colorado but it's still considered illegal under federal law. Meaning most cannabis shops scattered throughout the state do not have access to a banking system. Many shops in Pueblo operate on a cash-only basis.

"It's dangerous and also not productive to do business in cash," Deirdra A. O'Gorman, CEO of The Fourth Corner Credit Union said.

That's why the credit union is asking for equal access to the financial system for pot shop owners.

"We're seeing these businesses spend at least 30 more percent than the typical small business would just in overhead alone, trying to operate these cash-based organizations," O'Gorman said.

CEO Deirdra O'Gorman says that puts the marijuana businesses at a disadvantage.

"So it's extremely arduous and doesn't really allow them to have every opportunity as another small business would have to be able to grow and thrive," she said.

Adding that cash-only businesses pose a public safety risk.

"The more money we can filter into a compliant banking system, with electronic payments, the less money can be filtered into the black market," she said.

News5 reached out to several marijuana businesses in Pueblo, but understandably, they don't want to publicize how they handle their cash.

The Southern Colorado Growers Association tells News5, they've wanted banking all along.

"In spite of all of these obstacles and impediments, the industry is really working hard to gain some traction and we just want to be their partner and help them with that goal," she said.

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