Senate coronavirus relief bill won’t include banking protection for cannabis companies

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The cannabis industry still can’t get financial support from Capitol Hill

On Monday, the Senate leadership presented its latest round of coronavirus relief legislation, which has an important difference from the one already approved on the House. The Senate has decided to leave out any protections for the banks that provide financial services to the cannabis industry, as opposed to what the House bill proposed. This news, though disappointing, does not come as a surprise, as GOP senators have been long opposed to the cannabis legislation and have even issued coordinated attacks on House Democrats just because the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was included in their coronavirus proposal.

“Unfortunately, Senate Republicans and their Leader Mitch McConnell continue to refuse reality in nearly all of the legislative dealings when it comes to cannabis,” Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “At a time of a national credit crunch and coin shortage both providing them cover to include this minor but important policy change, their intransigence and desire to see lives ruined by prohibition holds.” For advocates as well as Democrats, not including this provision harms not only the possibility of getting support from traditional banking institutions, but also contributes to the spread of the virus as more cash transactions take place in the industry.

There was still a little hope that perhaps the Senate would consider adding this protection in their version. Even one of the biggest supporters, Representative Ed Perlmutter, said back in May that he thought there was going to be a 50-50% chance of the Senate adopting this measure in the coronavirus bill; however, the reality spoke differently. Hopefully, the SAFE Banking Act can find another way to become a reality.