The SAFE Banking Act is back in Congress, and political momentum is swinging in favor of the cannabis industry’s need to normalize its relations with financial institutions.
Safe Harbor Services’ credit union banked $3 billion in cannabis funds last year, part of a vast but fairly under-the-radar ecosystem where businesses are building rapport with smaller independent financial institutions like regional credit unions. There’s a lot to know to make sure that it’s a productive relationship, and federal reform is only one piece of the puzzle. Much of the work falls to the cannabis business, of course.
Here, we spoke with Safe Harbor Services Vice President Amanda McComb about some of the recent trends and changes that she’s seen in banking the cannabis industry.
Eric Sandy: Could provide a bit of a biographical sketch of Safe Harbor, as of early 2021, and the scope of how the business is interacting with cannabis businesses?
Amanda McComb: We started our cannabis banking program in 2015 and have since gone through 15 state and federal exams. So, it’s been a long haul, most specifically just for the cannabis program to make sure that we were staying in compliance and doing it in a safe and sound way. We also started a national [cannabis] program back in 2017. A lot of our clients that we bank here in Colorado were going out of state, and we wanted to follow them out of state because it’s really important for us to see all of their business—to be able to stand in front of the money and say that they’re legitimate businesses and that they’re operating within compliance, within their regulations. So, we started following them out of state and realized really quickly that we couldn’t be the only financial institution to bank the nation as a whole. We started working