Cannabis business owners are catching a break in Michigan. Frankenmuth Credit Union, voted by Forbes as the best credit union in the state of Michigan in 2020, decided to launch Envy, a pilot program designed to service cannabis businesses in the community. Although marijuana is still federally illegal, the new program will add just one or two cannabis-related business members each month for the remainder of 2021. Businesses that are interested in being considered for the program will be added to the waitlist. The company’s CEO Vicki Schmitzer said in a press release, “It was important for Frankenmuth Credit Union to provide banking services to cannabis-related businesses, but it was also important that we did so in the right way.”
She continued by saying, “This meant conducting extensive research into what the industry needed and developing a compliant program around those needs.” To get Envy up and running, Frankenmuth connected with Green Check Verified, a financial tech company that focuses on enabling financial institutions to safely and efficiently offer services to legal cannabis businesses. Governor Gretchen Whitmer lent her support as well to the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act. This would allow financial institutions to do business with cannabis businesses that are state-licensed and have had very limited legal banking options.
“Michiganders voted overwhelmingly to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in 2018, and we must respect the will of the voters,” she stated back in 2019. She continued, “Although legalization continues rolling nationwide, we still have federal laws on the books that prohibit financial institutions from working with marijuana businesses legally under state law.” Whitmer concluded, “To be blunt, legalization is great for the economy: it creates jobs and boosts tax revenue that can go towards schools, communities, and first responders. This legislation ensures that Michigan’s marijuana businesses can grow and access the same resources that all legal businesses can.”
Marijuana legalization is one thing but being able to bank with a financial institution is a major hurdle that has yet to be jumped over until now, who knows what kind of domino effect this could cause?