May 10, 2023
Media Contact: Bob Driscoll 

Bill Being Considered by Senate Banking Committee a Bailout for Banks at the Expense of Public Health

(WASHINGTON, DC) – A growing coalition of parents, public safety officials, and drug addiction and treatment experts are urging Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Tim Scott (R-SC) to reject the Addiction Banking Act (S.1323), which would inject billions of dollars into the commercial marijuana (THC) industry, to ensure illicit businesses, their investors and big banks aren’t rewarded at the expense of public health and safety, especially the health and safety of young people.

In a letter organized by Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action (SAM Action), the nation’s leading marijuana policy nonprofit, co-signed by groups representing tens of thousands of Americans with direct experience dealing with the impacts of addiction on our communities, the coalition makes clear the significant and unjustifiable risks of fueling the nation’s drug crisis through the legislation. The so-called SAFE Banking Act is currently scheduled for a hearing by the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

“Study after study continue to demonstrate the tragic consequences that Big Marijuana – like Big Tobacco before it – is having on our nation and particularly young people and communities of color. From a sharp increase in THC-related addiction and medical emergencies, to an exploding illicit market and a drugged driving epidemic, the banking and addiction industries are trying to convince Senators that this will be benign. Creating a new generation of daily, high-potency drug users will have long-term detrimental effects on communities across the nation,” said SAM Action President Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. Due to the spike in legal THC products and a growing illicit market, more Americans use THC daily than drink alcohol daily today.

“It’s even more baffling that Senator Brown, the committee chairman, would choose to hold this hearing during National Prevention Week – an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – that highlights the dangers of substance abuse and promotes positive mental health. It shows a complete lack of empathy for the millions of Americans who are suffering from addiction, especially the one-in-three annual users who have a marijuana use disorder,” said Sabet.

A copy of the coalition’s letter to the Senate Banking Committee can be found HERE.

As noted in the letter, the commercial pot industry does not need access to billions in capital, through big banks, because it has already seen an influx in cash from the likes of Big Tobacco giant Altria and Big Alcohol conglomerate Constellation Brands, which have both invested billions to create a new addiction-for-profit industry.

The letter also points out the industry continues to perpetuate the falsehood that it needs access to banking institutions because pot shops are “cash-only” businesses. SAM has previously demonstrated that hundreds of banks and credit unions across the country already provide banking services to the marijuana industry and it has become common practice throughout the industry to go cashless and accept credit or debit cards. “Even if all marijuana businesses were cash-only, this legislation will not alleviate safety concerns,” said Sabet. “Most criminals who break into marijuana dispensaries steal the lucrative and easily accessible THC products, not cash stored in a safe.”

SAM and the Coalition are also raising concerns that the bill will also provide legal cover for Mexican and Chinese cartels operating through shell corporations to inject money into the banking system for illegal operations. 

Additional members of the coalition include:

Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions 

National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition 

NAACP Illinois State Conference 

Family Research Council 

Parent Action Network 

Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. 

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America 

Drug Free America Foundation, Inc 

Save Our Society From Drugs 

Resilient Futures Network 

Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee 

Eagle Forum 

Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. 

Cannabis Industry Victims Education Litigators (CIVEL) 

Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana (AALM)  

North Carolinians Against Legalizing Marijuana (NCALM) 

new report recently released by SAM details how the commercial marijuana industry has caused serious consequences for public health and safety in so-called “legalized” states. Additional resources about the consequences of the Addiction Banking Act for every American can be found HERE.