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Small Oregon Credit Union Offers Banking To Marijuana Businesses

The federal ban on marijuana means banking is a big problem for marijuana businesses.

Some owners are driving around with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. But now, one small Willamette Valley credit union is opening accounts for them.

Shane Saunders with MAPS Credit Union said they’ve opened more than 100 accounts.

“Really for us it’s about community safety and about serving our community," he said.

He said account holders are extensively vetted, including a visit to their business, to make sure they’re not doing anything illegal.

Because of that extra work, fees for the accounts are relatively high. And, Rachel Pross the VP of risk at the credit union, said if federal agencies crack down on marijuana, they’ll stop immediately.

“We would issue the funds back to anyone who has deposited to us that is a marijuana related business,” she said.

That means the credit union isn’t actually making loans on the money.

Oregon passed a bill last year to protect financial institutions, but there have been few takers.

<p>Shane Saunders with MAPS Credit Union says they have more than 100 marijuana accounts out of a total of more than 50,000 accounts.</p>

Kristian Foden-Vencil

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Shane Saunders with MAPS Credit Union says they have more than 100 marijuana accounts out of a total of more than 50,000 accounts.

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.