Today, the United States House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act, a bill to grant the marijuana industry access to the federal banking system. Notably, the bill passes the House while the nation is in the grips of a health crisis, with at least two of eight deaths and hundreds of cases of illness linked to marijuana vaping devices. In response to the bill’s passage in the House, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is calling on the U.S. Senate to protect public health and safety in the face of this crisis by blocking this addiction-for-profit legislation.
“Americans are getting sick and a handful have died as a possible result of marijuana vaping. Surely this is not the time to reward Big Marijuana with investment opportunities,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM and a former three-time White House drug policy advisor. “ This is a gift to Big Tobacco, which has already invested billions into pot. Granting this industry access to banks will bring billions of dollars of institutional investment from the titans of addiction and vastly expand the harms we are already witnessing.”
Last month, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a public health advisory acknowledging the serious physical and mental health consequences associated with today’s commercially produced THC products, which include high-potency vapes, candies, gummies, and sodas. What’s more, multiple reports have indicated that the ongoing crisis with vaping is linked to the use of regulated marijuana devices.
“It is unfortunate that last minute changes to the bill, such as including a repeal of Operation Choke Point, influenced many lawmakers to vote in favor of the bill. It’s a dangerous and dramatic reshaping of our nation’s drug policy masterminded by Washington lobbyists who are trying to legalize marijuana and expand this industry through any means necessary,” continued Dr. Sabet.
“Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other leaders in the Senate should see through this scam and stand up for public health. As it stands, Senators Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker have all stated opposition to the bill. They know passing the SAFE Banking Act will do nothing but aid Big Marijuana in harming disadvantaged communities. The Senate must say no to this dangerous legislation.”