Judge tosses lawsuit by marijuana credit union seeking federal approval

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DENVER — A judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday by a credit union that serves Colorado’s marijuana businesses that was seeking federal approval.

U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson said federal law prohibits marijuana and that giving approval to Fourth Corner Credit Union would be breaking the law.

The majority of marijuana businesses are cash only and the credit union challenged a decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City that it could not take deposits or issue credit.

The credit union was chartered by Colorado in 2014, but several marijuana businesses are concerned over robberies because it is cash only. Recreational marijuana use was approved by Colorado voters in 2012 and sales began in January 2014.

The Federal Reserve argued money from marijuana businesses should not be allowed into the central banking system because the drug remains outlawed on the federal level.

Jackson said banking system for the marijuana industry needs to be resolved by Congress.

“There’s no shortcut, there’s no Band-Aid, there’s no workaround to fix this industry-wide,” Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, told The Associated Press.

“Forcing cannabis businesses to operate without banking access is a crisis, affecting public safety, law-abiding businesses and the state officials in charge of regulating them.”