The road to mainstream acceptance hasn’t been easy for cannabis. The industry has made a lot of steps in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go. For decades, the crop was classified as a controlled substance, right next to hard drugs like heroin and cocaine, and this has cast a shadow that cannabis hasn’t been completely able to shake off.
As 2018 drew to a close, Congress passed the Farm Bill, legislation that legalized industrial hemp and allowed farmers to grow it under state and tribal programs. One condition was that the hemp had to have less than 0.3% THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the chemical in marijuana that creates the psychoactive high it is famous for, but hemp has reduced levels of the chemical.
While the Farm Bill set hemp free from prohibition, the stigma was still there, and the farmers who jumped into the fray as soon as hemp became legal faced this stigma. There were no guidelines on how entities were to deal with them, and it resulted in essential service providers like banks and insurance companies avoiding them for fear of legal ramifications.
In a bid to bring in financial providers for Cannabis-Related Businesses (CRBs), the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has launched an eSchool to educate credit union professionals on the emerging cannabis and hemp industries along with the compliance oversight needed to serve CRBs.
“Cannabis is an $8.3 billion industry forced to operate almost entirely in cash,” says Melisa Kallestad, Director of Compliance & Lending Education at CUNA.
“This quickly expanding industry created a need for credit union professionals to understand the considerations and robust compliance protocols that need to be in place when serving CRBs. This program is designed to give professionals what they need to know to navigate the risks and legal gray areas to keep policies and procedures current.”
The eSchool is led by a number of financial compliance experts, and it is designed to inform credit union staff on the current state of cannabis and hemp industries and to provide guidance for business services in these industries.
Some of the recorded webinar sessions include; From A to CBD – The State of the Cannabis Market; The Latest Developments and Current State of Cannabis Regulations and Policy; The Cost and Manner of Providing Financial Services; Serving Cannabis-Related Businesses (CRBs) -The Law Enforcement Perspective and Implementing an Effective and Safe CRB Services Program.
Experts think that hemp entities like Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) will be hoping that all financial institutions enroll in this eSchool so that cannabis businesses access the financial services that they need to thrive.
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