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U.S. Senators Push Federal Bank Regulators To Clarify Rules For Hemp Businesses



A bipartisan duo of top U.S. senators sent a series of letters to federal financial regulators on Tuesday, imploring them to provide guidance to banks on the laws governing servicing hemp businesses.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chief proponents of a hemp legalization provision that was included in the 2018 Farm Bill, sent the requests to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Reserve System and the Farm Credit Administration (FCA).

“As authors of the Hemp Farming Act, McConnell and Wyden are committed to listening to the concerns of hemp farmers and producers and to urging federal agencies to properly implement the law,” the senators’ offices said in a press release.

The letters all share a section that discusses how the senators’ home states of Kentucky and Oregon have “been on the forefront of hemp production ever since the authorization of industrial hemp pilot programs” in 2014 and how hemp farmers and cultivators are “excited to explore the full economic opportunities for hemp after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.”

“Unfortunately, the hemp industry continues to face challenges with regulatory uncertainty as federal agencies work to implement this significant change in federal law,” the letters read.

Some of the letters vary in content. The FDIC, OOC and Federal Reserve each received letters that stressed the need to provide access to “capital and traditional lending services” that are needed in order to operate hemp businesses. The senators wrote that they’d heard from farmers and producers about the lack of access and said many “have faced difficulty securing financing and credit products to start or expand their businesses, and difficulty establishing accounts to manage cash flow and business expenses.”

“While some financial institutions have agreed to offer financial products to the growing hemp industry, many of them have not due to confusion over the legal status of hemp. However, as hemp is no longer a controlled substance, financial institutions should feel secure in engaging with this industry.”

The senators asked the federal agencies to provide guidance on these issues “to ease any concerns financial institutions may have with providing services to legal hemp businesses.” Legitimate hemp businesses “should be treated just like any other businesses and not discriminated against,” they wrote.

The FCA was also asked to provide similar guidance. The senators wrote that while hemp “is no longer a controlled substance, financial institutions still seem hesitant to engage with this industry, and confusion remains regarding the availability of credit options for hemp farmers and processors.”

The federal legalization of industrial hemp and its derivatives has put pressure on multiple federal agencies to develop guidances plans for prospective hemp businesses. The U.S. Postal Service recently clarified its rules about mailing hemp-derived CBD products, for example, and the FDA announced details of a public hearing it’s holding on CBD regulations.

McConnell and Wyden also sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month, urging the agency to develop regulatory plans for hemp “expeditiously.”

Last week, the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill that would increase access to banking services for cannabis businesses more broadly—those that deal with hemp but also those involved in the marijuana trade.

FDA Announces Details On CBD Public Hearing

Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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