Last week, we asked for your help in asking your Representative to vote against the SAFE Banking ActH.R. 1595. Unfortunately, the House passed the legislation in a 321 - 103 vote on September 25, 2019H.R. 1595 allows marijuana businesses access to the federal banking system and prevents federal banking regulators from punishing financial institutions that finance marijuana businesses that are legal under state or local laws. The bill undermines federal law and allows for legal money laundering in which banks receive illegally obtained funds. The Senate is now poised to take the legislation up for debate and a possible vote.

Its supporters, both Democrats and Republicans, have indicated the SAFE Banking Act is necessary due to the inevitability of the drug’s federal legalization and the need for federal law not to conflict with state laws. What these members forget is that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and by passing this legislation, Congress is allowing states to pick and choose which federal laws they follow.

In addition, the SAFE Banking Act is far from safe. Allowing cannabis businesses access to banking will encourage marketing efforts targeted at young adults, pregnant women, and children. In August, Surgeon General Jerome Adams announced an advisory warning against the use of marijuana by adolescents and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Adams, flanked by members of the D.C. health community, including Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, stressed the grave risk marijuana use poses to developing adolescent and fetal brains. Today, marijuana is more potent than it was 20-plus years ago and comes in many forms that all contain differing levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical giving the drug user euphoria and intoxication, and cannabidiol (CBD). Marijuana use not only leads to physical dependency, addiction, agitation, paranoia, but it also harms developing brains.

Representative Andy Barr (R-KY) must not have seen the Surgeon General’s warning. His amendments providing financial institutions clarity in working with the Hemp and CBD industry were adopted into the legislation. These substances are not regulated by the FDA, and there is no way to monitor what levels of THC are in the product, and the long term effects these products may have on our health is unknown.

Lastly, H.R. 1595 acts as a back-door method to marijuana’s federal legalization and includes no protections prohibiting drug traffickers from accessing the banking system. Upon the House’s passage of the SAFE Banking Act, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) released the following statement:

“I am proud to bring this legislation to the Floor, but I believe it does not go far enough.  This must be a first step toward the decriminalization and de-scheduling of marijuana, which has led to the prosecution and incarceration of far too many of our fellow Americans for possession.  A number of bills have been introduced to address this issue – by Rep. Barbara Lee, Chairman Jerry Nadler, Caucus Chairman Jeffries, and others.  I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to make progress on this issue and reform federal marijuana laws, including de-scheduling marijuana and providing relief to individuals and communities disproportionally affected by racial biases in the way federal marijuana laws have been enforced.”

Please join us in asking your Senator to oppose H.R. 1595. Call or email today!

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

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Mike Scruggs