Marijuana, Lucas Fonseca via PexelsOver 20 CEOs from the industry’s largest cannabis-based companies arrived at Congress last week to push for the passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.The act would enable federal banks to work with marijuana dispensaries in states where it is legal, without fear of reprisal from regulators. Marijuana remains illegal according to federal law although it’s medical use is legal in 38 states.There has been an uptick in robberies at marijuana dispensaries in recent months. Without access to banking services, some marijuana dispensaries have been forced to remain cash-only, making them a target for crime.On Friday, a dispensary robbery in western Washington turned fatal after a worker was shot. Last Wednesday, another dispensary robbery resulted in two arrests and a third suspect killed after police said he opened fire on a Seattle SWAT team.The SAFE Act has passed the House of Representatives six times, with every Democrat and over half of Republicans voting yea. But the SAFE Act has stalled in the Senate due to democratic leadership preferring a bill that also ends marijuana’s status as a schedule 1 drug on the federal level; and some marijuana advocates agree.
“[W]e cannot prioritize banking services while cannabis continues to be used as justification for police violence against [POC] communities,” said Kassandra Frederique, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) in a statement on the organization’s website.
Instead, the DPA is advocating that Congress pass the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. That act, which has also previously passed the House, decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level and establishes a process to expunge marijuana-related convictions. Senate Majority Leader (D-NY) Chuck Schumer has also been pushing his own bill, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act which aims to legalize and tax marijuana on the federal level, among other things.NORML, the oldest and largest cannabis legalization organization in the country, has advocated for all three bills in the past.Support for the legalization of cannabis has never been higher. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 91% of Americans believe marijuana should be legal for either medical or recreational use, with almost two thirds (59%) of Americans supporting full recreational legalization.