This article originally appeared on Politico Pro on Dec. 17, 2019.
An industry group that represents cannabis businesses throughout New Jersey has tapped a local bank president to join its board.
The New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, headed by former state Assemblyman Scott Rudder, said today that BCB Bank President and CEO Thomas Coughlin had joined its board of directors.
“I look forward to sitting on the NJCBA Board and contributing the perspective I can bring as a veteran of the state’s banking sector,” Coughlin said in a statement. “Banking is a highly regulated industry, as is the cannabis sector. Therefore, I believe my experience and knowledge can prove beneficial as NJCBA continues to grow and support its members.”
With marijuana still prohibited at the federal level, many cannabis businesses face challenges accessing banking and financing services. BCB, based in Bayonne, is one of a handful of entities in New Jersey that’s reportedly worked with cannabis-related businesses in the state.
In September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation called the SAFE Banking Act that would allow dispensaries and other cannabis-related entities to bank. While a Senate committee chaired by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) appeared ready to mark up the bill, impeachment proceedings put the legislation’s momentum “in a stall pattern,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the lead sponsor of the bill, told POLITICO Cannabis last week.
On Monday, lawmakers in both houses of New Jersey’s Legislature passed a resolution that would put a cannabis legalization question on the ballot for voters in November 2020. NJCBA, which had lent its support to a recreational use bill earlier in the legislative session, is also supporting the ballot question.
“You don’t have to be pro-cannabis to recognize that cannabis prohibition has failed,” Rudder said during an Assembly committee hearing on the resolution last week.