State treasurers group lobbies for marijuana banking in coronavirus bill

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A coalition of state treasurers across the country are urging Congress to include cannabis banking reform in the next coronavirus relief stimulus package to give the economy a needed infusion of capital while protecting marijuana workers who currently handle mostly cash transactions.

The U.S. House did include the SAFE Banking Act, which would enable financial institutions to serve cannabis-related businesses without fear of federal reprisal, in the relief bill that passed in May.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who has long held anti-marijuana views, sharply criticized House Democrats for including cannabis in the bill.

Negotiations on the next coronavirus stimulus package have stalled, and President Donald Trump signed executive orders Aug. 9 to provide some COVID-19 relief, but there was no mention of marijuana.

The Democratic Treasurers Association noted in a news release Monday that:

  • A bipartisan group of state treasurers urged cannabis banking reform to be included in coronavirus relief.
  • The SAFE Banking Act has bipartisan support, as evidenced by U.S. House passage last September by an overwhelming 321-103 margin.

The state treasurers group criticized Republican leaders for being out of touch with the issue.

“Despite support from Congressional Democrats and Republicans across red and blue states, Vice President (Mike) Pence and Senate Leader McConnell are stuck in the past, parroting outdated rhetoric that falls far short of the leadership we need in the middle of a global public health and economic crisis,” Oregon’s treasurer, Tobias Read, said in a statement.

Cannabis-related businesses have mostly been shut out of federal coronavirus relief funds so far because marijuana remains illegal on a federal basis.