Massachusetts credit union says it will serve recreational marijuana businesses

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Recreational and medical marijuana businesses in Massachusetts can look forward to having access to banking services after a credit union announced it is willing to serve them.

The GFA Federal Credit Union, a state-chartered institution with $500 million in assets, will begin accepting marijuana clients by Oct. 1, offering basic services that include cash management, checking accounts, payroll, wire transfers and bill payments, The Boston Globe reported.

As of February 2018, less than 4% of the nation’s banks and credit unions served state-legal marijuana businesses because of fears federal regulators could potentially take away financial institutions’ licenses for serving businesses that deal with a federally prohibited substance.

“We’re looking at a cannabis business as a legitimate business that wants to be recognized as such and that, without banking services, presents a tremendous public safety issue in our communities,” Tina Sbrega, GFA’s CEO, told the Globe.

“Otherwise, you’re talking millions and millions of dollars of cash on the street.”

GFA has seven branches in northern and central Massachusetts, plus two in New Hampshire, according to its website.

To launch the new business, GFA is incorporating a new subsidiary and partnering with Safe Harbor, a marijuana banking services firm created by Partner Colorado Credit Union in Denver.