Legal Pot Still Risky Business for Credit Unions
Denver businessman Kayvan Khalatbari operates a real estate holding company, consulting firm, several pizzerias and the second-oldest medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado.
“I moved here from my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, a decade ago and I’ve had the fortune of having a front row seat in the evolution of the cannabis industry,” said Khalatbari, who co-founded Denver Relief in 2009. “Unfortunately, I’ve also had the misfortune of being caught in the middle between state and federal laws, banking laws, tax laws and insurance laws that can’t seem to get on the same page.”
Pot was a hot topic last month when the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network convened the Bank Secrecy Act Advisory Group. It was the group’s first meeting since the Justice Department’s watershed announcement in August that it would allow voter-approved legal marijuana laws to proceed in Colorado and the state4 of Washington.
In 2009, the $940 million Elevations Credit Union in Boulder, Colo., sent a letter to about 100 business members, asking them to attest to not selling, producing or storing the drug. If members did not respond within 30 days, their accounts were closed.