From left to right: CUNA Director of Advocacy Shelton Roulhac, Weedmaps Vice President of Government Relations Dustin MacDonald, Budding Solutions Founder and CEO Shanita Penny, former Colorado Director of Marijuana Coordination Andrew Freeman and Maps CU Chief Risk Officer Rachel Pross.

WASHINGTON – In January when news broke that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had revoked the Cole Memo, Maps Credit Union Chief Risk Officer Rachel Pross ordered $30 million in cash – the same amount the credit union held on deposit for its cannabis business members – from the Federal Reserve and hired more armed security officers for its branches. She had to be prepared to divest the $30 million to those members that same day should Sessions’ action mean a federal crackdown on marijuana businesses, which currently operate legally under state laws. The Cole Memo was developed to shield legalized pot businesses from federal prosecution.

Luckily for Maps and its cannabis business members, FinCEN guidance (which spells out the priorities outlined in the Cole Memo) remains in effect, allowing Pross and her team to continue serving these members – albeit cautiously, she told attendees in a breakout session, “Cannabis, Credit Unions and Service to Communities,” at CUNA’s GAC Tuesday. Board members of the Salem, Ore.-based, $690 million Maps made the decision to begin serving cannabis businesses in 2014, a year before recreational marijuana businesses legally opened their doors in Oregon.

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Natasha Chilingerian

Natasha Chilingerian has worked in the credit union space for over a decade. She joined CU Times as managing editor in 2015 and was promoted to executive editor in 2019. Before that, she served as a communications specialist for Xceed Financial Credit Union (now Kinecta Federal Credit Union) in Los Angeles from 2013-2015, and as a CU Times freelancer from 2011-2013. She has been a professional writer and editor for more than 17 years, specializing in news and lifestyle journalism as well as marketing copywriting for companies in the finance and technology space.

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