As COVID-19 Halts Cannabis Bills Across the Country, Attorney’s General Urges Congress to Pass SAFE Banking Act

To pot consumers since COVID-19 broke, marijuana has been a trusty mainstay. In Oregon alone, $89 million was made in April, breaking its record of sales for the second month in a row.
Per Kyle Iboshi of Oregon’s KGW8 news station, federally legalizing marijuana would garner “[a] tremendous tax revenue at a time when other sources like personal income tax or lottery revenues are down. In an interview with Iboshi on Monday, Congressman Earl Blumenhauer of Oregon stated,

“There’s a reason why over 25 states have declared marijuana dispensaries essential services. I mean, these are things that people rely on.”

To date, more than 43 million Americans have applied for unemployment in the last two months, and federally legalizing the cannabis could also lead to more jobs. But Congress is giving push-back even in passing the Secure And Fair Enforcement or ‘SAFE’ Banking Act, which would, if passed, allow marijuana businesses to utilize the federal banking system much in the same way other companies are allowed.
The House reached a 208 – 199 margin with the vote, sending the bill to the Senate at the end of last week, where Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell complained about the plan, dubbing it a “totally unserious effort”;

“The word ‘cannabis’ appears in the bill 68 times. More times than the word ‘job’ and four times as many as the word ‘hire.”

Despite attempts to discolor the effort, 34 bipartisan Attorneys General contradicted McConnell, appealing to Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act, saying collectively in a letter Tuesday,

“The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply focused the need for legislative relief in three key respects. First, threats to public safety caused by a cash intensive business model, often the target of criminal activity, have intensified in the months since the pandemic began. Next, the presence of large cash transactions places law enforcement, tax regulators, consumers, and patients at heightened risk of exposure to the virus. Finally, the ability to efficiently collect tax revenue from the marijuana industry, estimated to have generated $15 billion in sales in 2019, will provide critical relief for state and local governments predicting budget shortfalls due to the pandemic.”

Because it is required of the public to keep six feet apart at all times and for non-essential workers to remain home, the passage of some other state’s marijuana reform bills have been stalled, as members of legislature moved postpone or adjourn until a later date in order to follow social distancing protocols.

Medical cannabis bills were ratified for both Kentucky and Alabama, but recompense was blocked by the effects of the coronavirus. Connecticut was about to send a historical legalization bill through which was even supported by its governor, but those efforts were hampered for now as well.