A Bipartisan Letter Calls for Banking Relief
Attorneys General for thirty-four states and territories asked the U.S. House and Senate to include protections in its pandemic relief plans for banks that service legal marijuana businesses.
“This provision would not only address new safety issues created by the COVID-19 crisis, but also those caused by the existing conflict between federal and state cannabis laws,” the letter stated. “The 28,000 cannabis related legitimate businesses and their 243,700 employees, who already faced significant burdens before the pandemic, are now confronting dangerous new obstacles as they attempt to address the changed circumstances. To keep workers, patients and consumers safe, it is essential that we reduce the use of cash by creating access to financial services for these state-licensed businesses.”
Green Reine Executive Producer, Shawna Vercher, was interviewed on her take on the need for SAFE Banking and how COVID-19 has created a greater sense of urgency around the issue.
What impact does the bipartisan letter have? Can it move the needle on Capitol Hill?
A letter alone will not influence our Congressional leadership, but it can provide them political cover if they decide to do the right thing. Sadly, we know that donors are the fastest way to the heart of most politicians so I would urge successful cannabis business leaders to make some phone calls and political contributions to pressure their elected officials.
“Cannabis is a multi-billion dollar industry and much of that money is not truly infused into our economy. This pandemic makes the need more urgent for states and Congress to do something about an existing problem.”
Beyond cannabis banking, will the letter have any impact on Congress?
The Senate has not yet decided if they will be moving on ANY second wave of relief for COVID-19 yet. As rents become due yet again for so many unemployed Americans and states continue to lose money, a letter like this could help the Senate pass a more holistic bill that includes safe banking as a way to add money to the economy while we try to pull through this.
Despite COVID-19, optimism for reform exists on the federal and state level. Can you discuss how the pandemic has impacted such legislative efforts?
While safety is the leading reason many are providing for these reform efforts, the discussions on Capitol Hill and on Wall Street are centered on revenue. Cannabis is a multi-billion dollar industry and much of that money is not truly infused into our economy.
This pandemic makes the need more urgent for states and Congress to do something about an existing problem.
Where do you see cannabis post-COVID? Will any reform come to pass? How will the market stand?
The cannabis community is filled with some of the most genuine and passionate people who want true reform to benefit the entire industry, not just themselves. However, it would benefit all of us if we were a bit more coordinated and savvy about beltway politics so that the economic power and popularity of cannabis could be fully leveraged to make that reform happen.
The market will continue to grow, but how quickly we come together to pressure our elected officials will determine how many obstacles stand in the way of meaningful change.
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Executive Producer, Green Reine (Reine Media)
Shawna Presley Vercher is an award-winning political media strategist and social justice advocate. She is a widely-acclaimed speaker, recognized for powerfully advancing the conversation on a number of humanitarian issues. Her Top 25 book, A Fearless Voice: How a National Scandal Made Me an Advocate for Building a Better America, has been renowned as an honest and heartbreaking look at our unjust institutions and how we can work together as Americans to improve them.
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