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Hot off the press cannabis, marijuana, cbd and hemp news from around the world on the WeedLife News Network.

President Biden Comes Under Pressure From All Sides Over His Cannabis Legalization Stance

Biden remains either silent or negative in the face of his inaction on the topic of cannabis legalization, which is supported by nearly three-quarters of the U.S. adult population.

Adding to the chorus of lawmakers pressuring President Joe Biden on cannabis legalization, on Monday Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) urged the President via Twitter to take unilateral action on cannabis policy.

“Biden needs to lean on his executive authority now. He has been delaying and underutilizing it so far,” AOC tweeted.

“There is an enormous amount he can do on climate, student debt, immigration, cannabis, health care, and more. Time is running out—we need to move and use alternative paths.”

The congresswoman was among the first to suggest that Biden use executive authority to advance marijuana reform.

Prior to Ocasio-Cortez’s plea, not her first, Republican lawmakers Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Don Young (R-AK), both co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, sent a letter to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris recently urging the administration to reschedule cannabis under federal law.

“As both legislative chambers continue to debate the merits of various common-sense proposals on the issue of cannabis reform and a complete end to federal prohibition garners more and more bipartisan support, your administration’s absence from these debates and lack of action, which is inconsistent with previous statements you have made on the topic, is of serious concern,” the lawmakers wrote. In addition, they noted that further, cannabis’ Schedule I classification “puts the U.S. far behind many of our international partners and scientific competitors.”

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Police allege duo planned to donate proceeds from illegal cannabis to hate group

Woman and man in Michigan arrested for illegally manufacturing marijuana with intent to distribute.

Two members of the Brotherhood Forever in Michigan are alleged to have grown illegal cannabis in the state so they could provide at least some of the proceeds to fund another chapter of the group in Tennessee.

It is alleged the woman and man, both in their early 30s, “are associated with a federally classified hate group known as Brotherhood Forever, a group closely associated with the Aryan Nation,” notes a statement from the Huron Undercover Narcotics Team (HUNT).

“Preliminary investigation indicates that mature marijuana product and/or the proceeds of its sale were destined for Tennessee in support of the Brotherhood Forever,” the press release adds.

The two people were arrested last week as part of a HUNT probe into illegal marijuana production. The woman and man, aged 34 and 33, respectively, were cited for manufacturing marijuana with the intent to distribute and associated crimes, the team reports.

 

Medicinal and recreational cannabis legal in Michigan

Both medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis are legal in Michigan, although there are limits. While recreational cannabis users 21 and older can legally buy and carry as much as 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of weed or 15 grams of concentrates, consumption should occur in a person’s own residence and away from the public, according to Detroit Metro Times.

With regard to marijuana possession with the intent to sell, give away, manufacture or otherwise distribute to others is a felony offence, per information from Grabel & Associates.

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Department of Corrections Facing Scourge of Smuggled Drugs

Colorado Department of Corrections officials say there is a scourge of narcotics flowing into the state’s facilities, including ultra-potent, hard-to-detect synthetic drugs that can be absorbed into paper and mailed to inmates.

Prison staff had no idea what was happening when an inmate suddenly lost consciousness at the Limon Correctional Facility in May.

It turned out the man was overdosing from fentanyl that had been snuck into the facility on the Eastern Plains. The drug is an opioid said to be 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

The inmate’s overdose was fatal, and an officer who responded to help him was exposed to the fentanyl and became extremely ill. The officer was given Narcan, an opioid-overdose reversal medication.

“We are so, so thankful that the officer survived,” said Sherrie Daigle, the state DOC inspector general, whose office is tasked with investigating crimes within the state’s prison system and keeping drugs out of its facilities.

“It could have been just as bad as the offender.”

The Limon case, which came before the arrests of five prison staff accused of smuggling drugs into the facility, was one of at least three fatal drug overdoses inside a Colorado prison in the past 13 months. The deaths underscore what the CDOC says is a scourge of narcotics flowing into the state’s facilities, including ultra-potent, hard-to-detect synthetic drugs that can be absorbed into paper and mailed to inmates.

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With feds taking over hemp regulation, plant samplers needed for Wisconsin

In the summer of 2020, Jake Mohr worked as an industrial hemp inspector for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Mohr, who lives in Onalaska, said he enjoyed traveling to hemp farms and greenhouses to take plant samples, which he passed along to DATCP's lab in Madison to ensure the crop was within the legal limit of THC.

"I enjoyed meeting hemp producers around southwestern Wisconsin and kind of seeing the varied types of operations they have. It's a pretty plant as well," he said.

When DATCP officials announced in September that the state was handing over regulation of the industry to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mohr decided to look into what it takes to become an inspector at the federal level. Mohr said he's currently working for an organic certification company that does work with hemp producers and he's hoping his employer will want to add THC sampling to their services.

"I'd like to do it again because I've been working from home for over a year now and I'm getting sick of staring out the same window," Mohr said.

Mohr is one of only two USDA-certified hemp sampling agents in Wisconsin, as of Dec. 8. But the state's hemp industry will need more people to take up the job in order for the transition to federal regulation in 2022 to be a success, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

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Congress to take up marijuana reform this spring

Congressional Democrats are gearing up for a sweeping set of initiatives aimed at decriminalizing marijuana that they plan to take action on this spring.

The federal proposals seek to establish 21st-century banking services for the nearly $18 billion industry and purge the criminal records of thousands of marijuana offenders.

“The growing bipartisan momentum for cannabis reform shows that Congress is primed for progress in 2022, and we are closer than ever to bringing our cannabis policies and laws in line with the American people,” Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) wrote in a memo to the Congressional Cannabis Caucus on Thursday. 

Nearly 70 percent of Americans — including roughly half of Republicans — support legalizing marijuana, the memo noted citing a 2020 Gallup poll. The past year saw five states join in allowing recreational cannabis — New Mexico, New Jersey, Virginia and Connecticut — as well as “a wealth of policy ideas” in Congress “targeted at ending cannabis prohibition,” the lawmakers noted.
 

The memo is a road map to dozens of bills that seek to reimagine the role of the federal government in every aspect of the cannabis industry, with some measures receiving GOP support.

Bills like the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, sponsored by Lee and Blumenauer, seek to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act and purge records for those convicted of using marijuana.

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Three Men Convicted of Stealing Marijuana from Retailer Won’t Have to Pay Back Nearly $77,000

Three men convicted of stealing almost $77,000 worth of marijuana from an Okanogan County retail marijuana business will not have to pay that money back to the victim.

The state Appeals Court in Spokane has determined the Okanogan County prosecutor’s office failed to ask for the money to be returned within the required 180 days from the date set by the Appeals Court.

The delay stemmed from difficulty in finding a replacement prosecutor when the Okanogan County Prosecutor removed himself from the case because he’d represented one of the defendants before being elected to the post.

The three defendants – Joseph Jones, Thomas Robertson, and Nathaniel Mowen – will not have to pay back the money to the owner of the retail shop.

The Appeals Court decision released Friday followed its previous decision disallowing an order for the defendants to pay the same amount of money back.

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Congressional Memo Praises Cannabis Momentum, Stresses Reform Priorities In 2022

“We are getting closer to passing the MORE Act, which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act,” lawmakers wrote.

U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) released a memo on behalf of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus that they co-chair. The memo lists the numerous pieces of marijuana legislation filed on Capitol Hill and explains which should be among the reform priorities for 2022, reported Marijuana Moment.

Blumenauer said “the table is set and the time is right for comprehensive cannabis reform, which will make a huge difference for people around the country. We’ve watched this issue gain more momentum than ever with the American people—almost 70 percent of whom, including a majority of Republicans, want to see federal reform.”

Although legislation to protect banks that service state-legal cannabis businesses passed the House for the fifth time in 2021, and a bipartisan measure was introduced to incentivize the expungement of prior marijuana records, none of those bills have been enacted.

 

Priorities for 2022

Federal descheduling of marijuana remains the first priority. “We are getting closer to passing the MORE Act, which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act,” the lawmakers wrote. The memo also states that it is “imperative that the Biden administration utilize power available to the executive to pardon and commute sentences for individuals with cannabis-related offenses.”

In addition, the memo highlights the possibility to “dramatically increase the scope and quality of our cannabis research,” to inform federal regulations, and “help us understand the full breadth of cannabis’ therapeutic benefits, especially for our veterans and those living with chronic conditions, like epilepsy.”
Finally, the document stressed that non-interference by the Justice Department — at least until marijuana banking reform passes the Senate — is vital.

“It’s important that the federal government not waste resources with any state-legal interference. That means redirecting the Department of Justice must not interfere with state-legal businesses before we secure the SAFE Banking Act through the U.S. Senate,” concluded the memo.

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Majority of Cannabis CFOs Think Biden Doesn’t Support Cannabis

 

New report shows several data points about CFOs, including their lack of confidence in the Biden administration.

Most financial leaders in cannabis don’t trust the Biden administration, new data suggests. On December 14, GreenGrowth CPAs announced the cannabis industry’s first 2021 Cannabis CFO Survey—a 22-page analysis containing business and market outlook data from over 75 cannabis industry CFOs, CEOs, founders, controllers and other financial roles in 20 markets across the United States. 

The report showed a lack in confidence about commitment on federal cannabis reform from President Joe Biden’s administration, and it provided some fascinating details of how people in financial roles in the cannabis industry differ in opinion from members of other industry sectors. 

Financial leaders were asked their perspective on the cannabis business environment, progress recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and outlook on raising capital and assessing the potential impact of the Biden administration.

“The answers were volunteered by financial leaders throughout the cannabis ecosystem,” GreenGrowth CPAs Chief Marketing Officer Kristofer Lenz told High Times.

“We sent emails to our internal distribution list ([over 40,000] mix of clients, prospects and folks who signed up for our newsletter), posted on social media and conducted personal outreach to industry partners who also shared within their networks.”

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Would Missouri allow someone to drive legally under the influence of pot? We hope not

A lawmaker’s proposal to ban warrantless searches based on the odor of marijuana would bring Missouri in line with commonsense drug reform seen in other states. But language of the prefiled bill will need some work when the General Assembly reconvenes next month.

The proposed bill does not differentiate between raw cannabis and the smell of burned marijuana. Just as we are opposed to drinking and driving, we are against any measure that would allow someone to legally operate a motor vehicle under the influence of pot.

“The odor of marijuana alone shall not provide a law enforcement officer with probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of a motor vehicle, home, or other private property,” reads a bill sponsored by state Rep. Ian Mackey, a Democrat from the St. Louis area.

There is no co-sponsor of the bill but Mackey expects bipartisan support. Missourians overwhelmingly approved the use of marijuana for medical reasons in 2018.

"No one should be subjected to warrantless searches based on their medication", Mackey said.

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An alligator and over 100 pounds of marijuana found in BHO lab in McKinleyville

Members of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office arrested a man in Mckinleyville on Wednesday after discovering a hash oil lab in his home, and for illegally owning an alligator.

According to HSCO, members of the marijuana enforcement team served a warrant to a residence located on Cochran Road, where an indoor lab was discovered.

The HCSO said that 42-year-old Ronnie Miller was reportedly operating the BHO. Deputies found over 509 pounds of processed cannabis, 499 pounds of bud, 364 pounds of shake, and 165 pounds of butane hash oil. Along with that, deputies also located three guns; including what the sheriff's office called a "ghost gun" assault rifle. All of this, while Miller's two children were living next to the operation.

Additionally, California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens located an illegally-owned dwarf alligator being showcased in a tank at the residence. The CDFW is working to coordinate the safe removal and re-homing of the alligator.

 

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Marijuana wars: Violent Mexican drug cartels turn Northern California into ‘The Wild West’

Mexican drug cartels are horning in on America's burgeoning multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry, illegally growing large crops in the hills and valleys of Northern California.

The state legalized marijuana in 2016 for adult recreational use, yet the black market continues to thrive with thousands of illegal grows. Criminal syndicates, in turn, are cashing in across the U.S. on the "green gold rush."

They're undercutting prices of legalized products offered by permitted farmers who follow the rulegs and pay taxes.

And they're exploiting workers, robbing and shooting adversaries, poisoning wildlife and poaching water in a state fighting widespread drought and devastating wildfires.

Lured by America's push toward legalized cannabis, cartels have abandoned many decades-old marijuana farms in Mexico, moving their operations to Northern California where they can blend in seamlessly alongside legitimate grows, said Mike Sena, executive director of Northern California's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces.

"Why try to bring that bulk marijuana into the United States, when you can just grow it in the United States in remote locations like Mendocino County and then move it across the entire country?"

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Awash in illegal cannabis farms, Oregon plans millions for relief

The Oregon Legislature has dedicated $25 million to combat the proliferation of illegal marijuana farms in Oregon

Theft of water during a drought. The exploitation of immigrant laborers. Intimidation of residents by armed criminals.

A Democratic state senator from southern Oregon said his region, awash in illegal marijuana farms that are protected by gunmen, is starting to look more like a failed state.

After hearing him and others testify this week, the Oregon Legislature dedicated $25 million to help police, sheriff’s offices and community organizations pay for the ballooning costs of cracking down on the thousands of industrial-scale, illegal cannabis farms. Residents said the assistance is welcome but not enough.

A cannabis grow is seen on Sept. 2, 2021, in an aerial photo taken by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office in the community of Alfalfa, Ore.

Seven years after Oregon voters passed a ballot measure legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and its regulated cultivation and sale, the state is grappling with an explosion of illegal marijuana farms that have brazenly cropped up, primarily in Josephine and Jackson counties in the south.

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Seward County deputies find 10.5 pounds of fentanyl, 30 pounds of marijuana on Interstate 80

Seward County deputies seized 10.5 pounds of fentanyl and 30 pounds of marijuana from a car hauler tractor-trailer.

Deputies later arrested three people from Ohio and also seized $25,000 and an AK-47.

The Seward County Sheriff's Office said deputies stopped the car hauler with eight vehicles loaded on and became suspicious of the vehicle.

When deputies inspected the car hauler, they found three tires with contraband. Deputies took the tires to a local repair shop to further inspect them. That's when they found the fentanyl and marijuana inside of the tires.

 
 
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Bureau of Land Management seizes more than one million marijuana plants during annual CAMP program

 

Bureau of Land Management rangers and special agents, alongside various law enforcement partners, eradicated more than one million marijuana plants and close to 180,300 pounds of processed marijuana this year from illegal grow sites statewide on BLM lands as part of the California Department of Justice’s annual Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP, program.

In addition to marijuana and chemicals, ammunition and weapons were also seized. The trash and litter these operations leave behind also impacts public lands: almost 300 miles of waterline, 583 propane tanks were collected during these operations, as well as more than 67,000 pounds of grow site infrastructure.

“The BLM is proud of its law enforcement Rangers and Special Agents for conducting this important work,” said BLM California State Director Karen Mouritsen. 

“These illegal operations have a devastating impact on our environment and the health and safety of communities, which we cannot tolerate. The BLM looks forward to working with the Attorney General’s Office again next year on this very important effort.”

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A 90-year-old was serving life for marijuana despite serious illness. Now he’s going home

In a dramatic reversal, a 90-year-old, seriously ill federal inmate serving life in prison for a nonviolent marijuana trafficking crime will go free after a judge granted him compassionate release on Tuesday — overturning his previous order denying release.

Horacio Estrada-Elias, who was the subject of a CNN investigative story in September, is set to be freed this week after more than a dozen years behind bars.

 

“It’s a huge blessing for all of us,” his daughter Elizabeth Estrada said Tuesday. “We’re so excited for the whole family to finally be together.”

Estrada-Elias suffers from congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation and chronic kidney disease, and also contracted the coronavirus while in prison, according to court affidavits filed by doctors. His prison doctor predicted in April 2020 that he had “less than 18 months” to live, and his warden recommended release, noting his spotless disciplinary record and writing last year that “he has been diagnosed with an incurable, progressive illness in which he will not recover.”

Federal Judge Danny Reeves denied Estrada-Elias’ motion for compassionate release in July, arguing that a life sentence is “the only sentence that would be appropriate.”

But last month, an appeals court ordered Reeves to reconsider. Two judges on a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that Reeves had “abused (his) discretion” by ignoring the fact that Estrada-Elias is unlikely to reoffend and “overly emphasizing” his nonviolent crimes. One judge dissented.

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Ludlow green lights mask mandate, cannabis revote, and town charter

Ludlow green lights mask mandate, cannabis revote, and town charter

At the Ludlow Selectboard meeting on Dec. 6, the board approved a town-wide mask mandate, scheduled the revote for cannabis retail sales in Ludlow, moved their town charter forward, and discussed more budget numbers.

As reported last week, the Ludlow Selectboard approved a town-wide mask mandate, termed a “rule,” effective immediately, requiring all individuals to wear face coverings while indoors at locations that are open to the public. The mandate is in effect for 45 days and then needs to be renewed every 30 days thereafter.

Due to issues with enforcement, the mandate is considered a non-enforceable rule, not an ordinance, since a “rule” cannot be petitioned to be turned over. Ludlow’s Municipal Manager Scott Murphy said the primary method of enforcement is educating the public and requesting voluntary compliance.

Discussion centered around the perspective of business owners who are looking for additional “tools” of support to enforce mask wearing since the edict would be coming from the town.

“There’s no teeth in the mandate,” said business owner and board member Justin Hyjek, “but it does show at least we’re looking at the case load, and we’re trying to hopefully do what’s best for our small community with the influx of visitors that we see.”

The measure passed 3-1, with one board member abstaining.

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Retail cannabis forum stirs debate over economic benefit, public health risks

Bennington, Burlington and Brattleboro have approved it. So have Windsor, Strafford and more than 20 other Vermont communities.

And chances are, Hartford Selectboard Vice Chair Joe Major expects, voters in Hartford will have to decide whether they want to approve it, too.

The “it” in this instance is retail sale of recreational marijuana, which the Vermont Legislature legalized — and Gov. Phil Scott let pass into law — effective in October 2022.

“There is a strong possibility that Hartford will ask its residents on (Town Meeting Day) of March 2022 if they want to opt in to allow cannabis sales in Hartford,” Major said in introducing the topic at a town hall discussion Monday night at Hartford High School.

The meeting, organized by the Selectboard and the Hartford Community Coalition, featured a panel of local experts on the issue so that voters “could make an informed decision before going into the voter booth,” Major said.

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VDACS receives approval on plan to regulate hemp production

The USDA has approved the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services plan to regulate hemp production in the Commonwealth. This approval allows VDACS to continue as the primary regulator of hemp production in Virginia. Beginning Jan. 1, the production of hemp throughout the U.S. must comply with the 2018 federal Farm Bill’s hemp provisions and USDA’s Domestic Hemp Production Program regulations. Additionally, state departments of agriculture with USDA-approved plans, like VDACS, must regulate hemp production in accordance with the 2018 federal Farm Bill’s hemp provisions and USDA’s Domestic Hemp Production Program regulations.

Should the federal government provide new flexibility in the regulation of the production of hemp, VDACS will consider the implementation of any program modifications that will benefit Virginia’s hemp growers.

Notable changes to VDACS’s current regulation of hemp production in response to these new federal rules will include:

Requiring each applicant for an Industrial Hemp Grower Registration to submit a criminal history report to VDACS,Requiring all registered Industrial Hemp Growers to test the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of their hemp lots 30 days before each hemp lot is harvested by utilizing private sampling agents and testing laboratories. Exceptions may be available to institutions of higher education researchers and certain growers producing fiber hemp under a contract with an industrial hemp fiber processing facility,Requiring registered Industrial Hemp Growers to report certain crop information to USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

“While the new federal hemp regulations require some adjustments to VDACS’s Industrial Hemp Program, we intend to continue the productive, supportive relationship we have had with Virginia’s hemp producers since our program was established. By operating this program under USDA’s new requirements, we aim to provide our hemp industry with certainty and parity, as all of the nation’s hemp producers are now expected to comply with the same set of rules,” said Brad Copenhaver, Commissioner of VDACS. “We look forward to continued collaboration with stakeholders in support of Virginia’s hemp industry.”

VDACS has begun communicating directly with currently registered Industrial Hemp Growers regarding the new requirements and will also release applications for trained sampling agents and testing laboratories.

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Oakland ordinance would allow for marijuana growing businesses but not retail sales

Three ordinances proposing non-retail cannabis operations in the borough will be the subject of public hearings and possible votes Monday.

No cannabis business has applied to the borough, said Borough Administrator Richard Kunze. The ordinances are intended to define what businesses will be allowed in the future, where they can be and how they will be regulated.

The changes proposed in the ordinance would affect several of the borough's industrial zones. It would also create a new industrial zone to replace a corporate office and industrial park zone. These properties are mostly in the southwest part of the borough.

Zones designated I-1, I-2 and I-4 would allow cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, wholesaling, distribution and delivery service. Only the new I-4 zone would require a minimum 10-acre lot size for such businesses.
 
Oakland is proposing three ordinances Dec. 20 that would allow up to five types of non-retail cannabis businesses to operate in industrial areas in the southwest part of the borough.

In I-P and I-3 zones, only cannabis wholesaling and distribution would be allowed.

Retail sales are not mentioned for any zone.

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New Mexico Credit Union First In Nation To Set Up Protocols For Cannabis Banking, Blow To Illicit Dealers

The cannabis industry has been unbanked and underserved for years, often resulting in adverse impacts on public safety in communities where cannabis is legal.

On Monday, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that New Mexico-based U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union is the first financial institution in the country to become certified for outstanding U.S. monetary banking protocols in banking cannabis and hemp operation.

The certification is part of a financial services certification program run by the Policy Center for Public Health & Safety in collaboration with state attorneys general as well as a broader certification effort being implemented by ASTM international and PH&S.

“The marijuana industry will soon be exploding in New Mexico, and it is important to have banking safeguards to mitigate illicit and criminal conduct, Balderas said. “This is an important first step in partnering with legally compliant businesses in the marketplace.”

Endorsed by Safe Harbor Financial, a subsidiary of Partner Colorado Credit Union,the certification brings banking and financial transparency to ensure the safety of the monetary system for institutions banking hemp and cannabis.

Marsha Majors, president and CEO of U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union, emphasized that credit unions “were chartered to serve the unbanked and underserved population.

“The cannabis industry has been unbanked and underserved for years, often resulting in adverse impacts on public safety in communities where cannabis is legal,” Majors added.

State and federal agencies accept the overall certification model as the standard of compliance and in implementing general risk mitigating strategies.

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