Mitch McConnell Cheers Lack Of Marijuana Banking Protections In New COVID Bill

MJ moment

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is celebrating that the large-scale coronavirus relief bill Congress passed this week does not contain language to protect banks that service state-legal marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators. While some industry stakeholders have maintained that cannabis banking legislation has a good chance of advancing regardless of which party controls the Senate next year, McConnell’s new press release gives another signal he’s hostile to the reform—and it is his position that will ultimately determine whether the bill goes to the floor if Republicans stay in power following next month’s two runoff elections in Georgia. In a recap of the new COVID-19 measure, McConnell’s office listed various provisions included in previous Democratic House bills that the GOP opposed and were left out of the final deal. “From may through December, Democrats held up bipartisan COVID relief for unrelated partisan provisions like tax cuts for wealthy residents of big spending states, federal election mandates, and marijuana studies,” it states. That’s a reference to part of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act that would require reports on “access to financial services for minority-owned and women-owned cannabis-related legitimate businesses.” McConnell has taken particular issue with that component, though he’s also more broadly criticized the marijuana-focused financial service reform being included in coronavirus relief at all. “Speaker Pelosi’s partisan bill included… provisions ensuring cannabis businesses can work with federally backed banks and insurers,” the new release says. It also includes a chart celebrating the fact that marijuana provisions were not included in the final bicameral agreement. The House has passed the cannabis banking measure three times over the past year—first as a standalone bill and then twice as part of COVID-19 relief legislation. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also filed his own COVID-19 bill in…

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