Fed Showing Annoying Fealty To Federal Marijuana Laws

Not cool. So not cool.

Maybe shouldn't have led with this.

In the two-and-a-half years since voters in Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana, potrepreneurs have gotten down to business. There’s still no Cheech & Chong hedge fund, to the best of our knowledge, but there’s a would-be “GE Capital” of pot, a Rolls Royce of weed containment, and a proposed New York medical-marijuana company backed by Cantor Fitzgerald. And businesses need banks, because pot’s gonna have trouble becoming big business relying on Looney Tunes-style giant safes and armored cars. Unfortunately, on that count, Esther George and the squares at the Fed are proving way less cool about things than the SEC.

Banking regulators just said no to a financial institution that aims to be the first to serve the expanding marijuana industry in Colorado….

“I felt all along like they were trying to figure out a way to deny our application,” said Mr. Mason, who also runs a law firm in South Carolina.

Unlike your average stoner, Mason and Fourth Corner Credit Union—backed by Colorado’s governor, who isn’t thrilled about all of the new armored cars clogging Denver’s streets, nor the clear criminal opportunities afforded by all-cash businesses—aren’t just rolling over and going to White Castle. Well, maybe they are going to White Castle, but they’ll be working there, damnit.

The credit union, which has the backing of Colorado’s governor, fired back on Thursday night by filing a lawsuit in federal court in Denver against the Fed, demanding “equal access” to the financial system.

The credit union’s lawsuit could push the courts to resolve the continuing conflict between the federal laws against marijuana and the dozens of states that have legalized it in some form.

Banking for Pot Industry Hits a Roadblock [NYT]
Earlier: Kansas City Fed President Sits Down With Top Pot Industry Brass