Leadership of the United States House of Representatives recently unveiled the latest stimulus package as part of the continuing effort to deal with the economic fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Baked into the package is language similar to the SAFE Banking Act, which would grant the federally-illegal marijuana industry access to the federal financial system and allow them to receive large institutional investments.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former three-time White House drug policy advisor, released the following statement in response:
“Pot companies are raking in major profits. They should not be given consideration in a bill designed to help people who are suffering in this country. And while it is encouraging to see Congressional leadership taking serious steps to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19, the inclusion of such a blatant giveaway to Big Marijuana – which would allow cartels and criminal syndicates to potentially access our financial system – should be a complete nonstarter as the discussions over this package continue.
“Millions of small business owners across the nation have seen their livelihoods dramatically affected by this pandemic. Numerous industries have been forced to completely shut down and have made great sacrifices to comply with shutdowns and limitations on their business operations. The marijuana industry has been a painfully obvious exception to this. This industry has used its lobbying arm to force state officials to keep their storefronts open, sued leaders who shut them down, and bragged incessantly about their revenues. The idea of including this industry in the relief package makes no sense.
“Furthermore, 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 from marijuana commercialization and its highly potent products.
“Simply put, we cannot allow much-needed aid bills such as this to be loaded up with the wish lists of Big Pot. Thankfully, due to conversations with key members of Congress and continued advocacy by SAM’s supporters, it is unlikely these provisions will make it to the President’s desk.”