The Struggles of Banking the Legal Cannabis Industry: Fourth Corner Credit Union’s Mark Goldfogel

In this interview, Fourth Corner Credit Union’s Mark Goldfogel tells Bitsonline how he went from being a computer nerd to the man who “turned the light of the cannabis industry on for governments”. And in doing so, he became the much-needed financial savior to Colorado’s growing and beneficial businesses.

Goldfogel: ‘My Forrest Gump Story’

Goldfogel describes his journey as “a Forrest Gump story”. With little to no experience in financial services, he was thrust into an activist’s role by life-threatening illness and legal circumstance.

“No-one should have to choose between being a criminal, and throwing up,” he says. But that’s the situation cannabis users faced a decade ago as they tried to acquire the treatments to ease their agony.

It’s clearly a passionate, emotional and deeply personal issue for Goldfogel. After joining Fourth Corner he worked to establish the credit union as one chartered to provide financial services specifically to the cannabis industry.

After building a “seed to sale” computer system that defined a standard legal gram of marijuana for the entire nation, he turned to the next most important issue — providing access to the financial services necessary to operate as normal businesses.

The Right to Financial Services

“Banking (itself) doesn’t have a pre-meditated bias against marijuana,” he adds. But Fourth Corner’s problems weren’t solved even after it obtained a charter from the state of Colorado. Federal regulations prevented banks from dealing with cannabis businesses, and the Federal Reserve refused to provide the insurance every bank requires to operate at all.

Legal businesses deserve a right to bank, he says, as much as patients deserve their right to effective treatments. It’s a situation which led to his company reluctantly suing the Federal Reserve and the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) to have those financial rights granted.

Goldfogel’s story reflects the personally risky and human situation the cannabis movement faces. Its participants don’t want to be criminals, and simply want the ability to go about their business legally. He’s been winning, but there’s still a long way to go.

Watch the interview above to hear the full story.

What’s your view on legal cannabis, and its legal/financial minefield? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

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