Pot banking CUSO goes national

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Safe Harbor Services, a credit union service organization wholly-owned by Partner Colorado Credit Union, Arvada, Colo., is expanding its Safe Harbor cannabis banking program nationwide.

Partner Colorado CU is a $417 million-asset institution that serves more than 32,000 members throughout the Denver metro area. After voters in Colorado legalized adult recreational cannabis use, Sundie Seefried, the credit union’s CEO, created Safe Harbor Services in late 2014 to provide banking services for legal cannabis-related businesses in the Centennial State.

As recreational or medicinal marijuana use is legalized in more states, a growing number of credit unions are electing to serve the industry despite the fact that the drug remains illegal at the federal level. Congress this week considered the SAFE Banking Act, which would provide additional clarity for financial institutions serving the legal weed industry. Rachel Pross, chief risk officer at Salem, Ore.-based MAPS Credit Union, testified at the hearing on behalf of CUNA.

Safe Harbor currently serves 160 clients, including more than 400 dispensaries, 160 cultivators, and 65 manufacturers, along with 70 ancillary service providers in the cannabis industry. As part of its expansion, Safe Harbor Services will partner with local financial institutions throughout the country so they can serve legal cannabis businesses in their areas.

Safe Harbor Services currently banks $100 million per month in cannabis-related funds.

Katrina Skinner, who had been serving as interim president and general counsel, on Thursday was named president of the CUSO.

“Under Katrina’s able management, and through her experience in the financial industry and private legal practice, she is changing the way credit unions and banks throughout the country handle the challenges of servicing businesses that are emerging and expanding in the rapidly changing cannabis industry,” Seefried said in a statement.

“We are setting new standards for how to provide professional consulting services to financial institutions that want to offer traditional banking services to cannabis-related businesses,” said Skinner. “Through Safe Harbor Services, we are committed to helping financial institutions deliver viable banking options and make their communities safer.”

Skinner holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in Spanish from Metropolitan State University of Denver, and a J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

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