NCUA greenlights credit union loans for US hemp businesses

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) released new guidance which allows federally insured credit unions to provide certain banking services to legally operating hemp businesses in the United States. 

“Many credit unions have a long and successful history of providing services to the agriculture sector. My expectation is that credit unions will thoughtfully consider whether they are able to safely and properly serve lawfully operating hemp-related businesses within their fields of membership,” NCUA Chairman Rodney E. Hood said in a statement.

Credit unions “may provide the customary range of financial services for business accounts, including loans, to lawfully operating hemp-related businesses within their fields of membership,” according to the new guidelines, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is credited for. 

“I’m delighted to hear the NCUA has answered my call on behalf of Kentuckians to ensure the legal hemp industry can access much-needed financial services,” McConnell stated.

The Republican noted that although Congress legalized industrial hemp in December, essentially removing it from the federal list of controlled substances, many of his constituents pointed out the myriad of problems their businesses face as they cannot take out loans or use other financial services.

“Through this guidance by the NCUA, I look forward to more hemp farmers, processors and manufacturers starting or growing their operations with the help of Kentucky’s credit unions,” the Kentucky senator added.

As weed remains a Schedule I drug, the paradox legal marijuana businesses in the US often find themselves in appears to have drawn more attention from lawmakers this year. 

For example, last month, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs held its first marijuana hearing. Senators and executives discussed the challenges companies in the legal cannabis industry face when seeking banking services as financial institutions can be accused of money laundering or racketeering when dealing with pot companies.

Building on that hope, Kevin Murphy, chief executive at Acreage Holdings, told investors last week that Congress may soon offer relief.

“Safe banking is what we believe to be the first bill that will be passed,” he said during his company’s earnings call, as quoted by Barron’s.

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