Last year, we saw pro-pot lawmakers attempt to load up any and every COVID-19 aid bill with marijuana industry wish list items. Though none of those attempts proved successful, they are back at it again.
Last week, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) offered the SAFE Banking Act as an amendment to the annual military spending bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. The NDAA is a must-enact defense spending bill that Congress has passed into law each year for 60 years in a row. Which renders Perlmutter’s move especially shady.
Outside of full, federal legalization, passing the SAFE Banking Act into law is the top priority of the marijuana industry. The bill would allow the industry access to the federal financial system, opening it up to take out loans, have FDIC-insured bank accounts and accept all major credit cards without having to resort to loopholes. But the real reason why this bill is so critically important to Big Pot is that it would finally allow pot companies access to institutional investment.
You see, there are currently billions of dollars sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be invested into the pot industry by major investment firms, hedge funds, pension systems and other major corporate interests. These interests, according to former House Speaker and pot advocate John Boehner, want to “dive head-first into cannabis.”
As it stands, the giants of Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol are deeply invested in the marijuana industry across our northern border in Canada. Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, invested $2 billion into Cronos, a Canadian weed company, while Constellation Brands, one of the largest alcohol conglomerates, pumped $245 million into another Canadian marijuana company, Canopy Growth.
But while these two giants of the addiction industry are unable to fully invest in American marijuana companies, their well-heeled lobbyists are working the halls of Congress, pushing for the SAFE Banking Act.
The most direct, immediate result of this bill would be billions of dollars in investment flowing into pot companies that can then be spent on research and development of new, highly potent products and new marketing campaigns that will further normalize marijuana use and result in more youths using the drug.
As an aside, don’t be fooled into thinking the pot industry is marketing the 5-percent-THC pot smoked in the 1960s and ’70s. Today’s marijuana regularly contains upwards of 30 percent THC — the main, psychoactive compound — in flower and 99 percent THC in concentrates such as dabs and vaping oils. This new, high-potency pot has been linked to a litany of serious mental-health issues, such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and psychosis.
The pot lobby has promulgated lie after lie to convince lawmakers to support this bill. They say they are forced to operate as a “cash-only” industry due to the lack of conventional banking access. This has repeatedly been shown to be false, as many marijuana dispensaries readily accept card payment. Furthermore, the pot lobby claims that its (false) status as “cash-only” makes dispensaries a prime target for robberies. While it’s true marijuana dispensaries are oftentimes robbed, many such robberies are not after cash that is locked away in a backroom safe, but the marijuana products on the shelves.
In short, the SAFE Banking Act is nothing more than the federal government signing off on corporate investment in the marijuana industry. And what’s worse, it could set the precedent for banking access to other industries that traffic in federally illegal substances. Former officials from the Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations have even warned this bill could grant cover for criminal cartels to engage in money laundering.
To the point at hand, marijuana-industry banking access has absolutely nothing to do with the funding of our military and other national-security operations; the inclusion of this amendment is just another example of the desperation of the marijuana industry. The American people should reject these shady tactics and put kids before the pot industry.
Kevin Sabet, a former three-time White House senior drug-policy adviser, is president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and author of “Smokescreen: What the Marijuana Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know.”
Credit: Source link