Saturday, April 20, 2024

Senate Republicans Really Don’t Want SAFE Marijuana Banking, Or So They Say

Senate Republicans remain deeply divided on their party’s own coronavirus stimulus package, but the party line blames the holdup on cannabis.

America has not received a new round of coronavirus-related stimulus funding partly due to marijuana, according to Senate Republicans. The exact phrasing is more dramatic.

“right now, your unemployment insurance is being held hostage by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” @SenateGOP tweeted Monday. “what are they demanding? […] marijuana banking.”

Cannabis dispensaries remain a cash-only business as financial institutions fear that working with these companies could generate harsh penalties. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug and by accepting money from legal markets, financial institutions could technically receive federal drug and money laundering charges. The SAFE Banking Act, which the Democrats added to their stimulus bill, would protect banks and lenders from those possible federal prosecutions.

RELATED: Democrats Reject Marijuana Legalization For Official Party Platform

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has spoken out the loudest against cannabis since its introduction into the COVID-19 stimulus package. He attacked measures that would require research into creating more diverse ownership in legal cannabis businesses, which overwhelmingly feature white owners.

“Let me say that again, Democrats’ proposed coronavirus bill includes taxpayer-funded studies to measure diversity and inclusion among the people who profit off of marijuana,” McConnell said on the Senate floor last week.

federal marijuana banking measure blocked by senate committee
Photo by kevinjeon00/Getty Images

McConnell renewed his attack this week again House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who labeled cannabis a “therapy that has proven successful” amid the pandemic.

“Speaker Pelosi is still holding up this entire package over bizarre unrelated things like carveouts for the marijuana industry,” McConnell tweeted out Tuesday morning She even claimed to the press that pot is a proven COVID-19 therapy!

“I hope she’s shared this breakthrough with Dr. Fauci. Can we get serious yet?”

While cannabis is not a proven COVID-19 therapy, a preliminary study found that cannabis could play a unique role in preventing the spread and severity of the coronavirus. In addition, a recent Israeli clinical trial noted that a combination of cannabis terpenes and CBD was four times as effective at reducing COVD-19 inflammation than leading steroid treatments.

Division on the SAFE Banking Act has rankled the Senate GOP for the past year. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, has become a champion of cannabis reform and sponsored the banking bill. But he hasn’t been influential pushing any cannabis policies through the Senate.

RELATED: Nancy Pelosi Calls Cannabis ‘A Therapy That Has Proven Successful’ During Pandemic

The Senate Republicans Twitter account posted harsh critiques of the banking act when Democrats first attached it to the stimulus package in May. But those tweets were quickly deleted when Marijuana Moment journalist Tom Angell responded, “Paging @CoryGardner. Your party no longer cares about your reelection bid.”

That may be because some Senate Republicans worry more about their own re-election campaigns. According to American Banking, many GOP have distanced themselves from the bill fearing it would legitimize cannabis legalization in their constituents’ eyes. “For most Republicans, they don’t view this as something with a lot of political upside,” Ed Mills, a policy analyst at Raymond James, told American Banking when the bill was first introduced last year.

However, Senate Republicans remain deeply divided on their party’s own coronavirus stimulus package.

RELATED: Will Weed Sales Plummet When Enhanced Unemployment Benefits End?

“It’s a mess. I can’t figure out what this bill’s about,” said Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican. “They’re going to go negotiate with Pelosi. We have no idea what the final bill will be, and we’ll be the last to know.”


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