Credit union regulator reminds banks hemp businesses can be served – with caution

Hemp businesses should have access to banking services, a top banking regulator reiterated this week amid ongoing complaints about banking and credit challenges in the newly legal industry.

The National Credit Union Association (NCUA), an independent federal agency that oversees and insures banking deposits for more than 100 million U.S. account holders, released a statement Monday reminding its member institutions that hemp businesses are legal.

“Hemp provides new opportunities for communities with an economic base involving agriculture,” the agency told banks.

However, the statement came along with an oft-repeated reminder that banks serving hemp businesses should include “appropriate due diligence procedures for hemp-related accounts.” That includes the Suspicious Activity Report, time-consuming documents to federal banking regulators that are cited by many banks as a reason they reject cannabis accounts.

The NCUA told banks it would update its hemp-banking guidance again this fall, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases national rules for growing hemp, which was removed from the Controlled Substances Act in December.

In April, several U.S. senators wrote to four federal banking and financial institutions – not the NCUA – asking them to ease banks’ concerns over accepting hemp accounts.

However, the letter did not change any rules from the U.S. Treasury Department about the paperwork involved in banking those businesses.

As a result, many hemp businesses say they are still struggling to access loans and other financial products.