If you’re wondering who’s talking about weed right now, will the Speaker of the House suffice?
On Friday, none other than Nancy Pelosi herself gave a public endorsement for the inclusion of cannabis banking protections in the latest COVID relief bill being floated by Democrats.
“I don’t agree with you that cannabis is not related to this,” Pelosi said in a response to a reporter questioning how weed relates to COVID relief. “This is a therapy that has proven successful.”
Republicans wasted no time in ridiculing the top Democrat’s comment. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was among the first, offering a snide rebuke on social media only hours after Pelosi’s comment.
“Hey Nancy,” McCarthy posted, “let’s focus on the pandemic. Not pot.”
What McCarthy’s crude remark fails to grasp is that the two concepts are absolutely intertwined.
In linking pot with the pandemic, one can start with a widespread body of research that suggests the efficacy of cannabis in treating an array of conditions and disorders. From certain cancers to PTSD to some seizure conditions, the results we’re seeing may not be the final answer, but they’re certainly promising.
While more research is needed when it comes to basically everything concerning the subject,, the data in favor of cannabis as a valuable medicinal substance continues to mount — even when it comes to COVID itself.
As Bloom & Oil reported earlier this month:
“[The hard-fought-for scientific research into cannabis of the last decade (and more) has provided a good foundation for researchers currently looking for ways to treat this new, deadly virus. Just in the last several months, multiple studies have already highlighted various ways that cannabis may be able to help combat the disease. According to one such study, CBD has potential as an antiviral agent. And recent research out of Canada found that high-CBD strains of cannabis reduced levels of the ACE2 receptor, which the Covid-19 virus needs to make itself at home in the human body.”
Beyond the myriad ways in which cannabis and health overlap, there is also the marquee issue of this particular bill: banking access.
It can be difficult to convince those unfamiliar with the industry and its regulations of just how insane this reality remains. The fact that legal cannabis businesses are still unable to patronize federally-accredited banks is madness. Imagine the folks behind Budweiser or Kendall Jackson had to conduct all of their business in cash. That’s the case for much of the cannabis industry, where some businesses’ taxes are literally paid with trash bags of cash despite the transactions being entirely legal.
One thing we know for certain: cash is straight-up filthy.
As a conduit for germs, cash is thus less ideal than contactless transactions like those involving a credit or debit card. Some consumers may point out that they’ve successfully used plastic payments in dispensaries before. That’s actually thanks to a loophole in which customers essentially make an ATM withdrawal at a dispensary and then pay for their goods with it.
What would be vastly better is if cannabis businesses in states with legal markets could simply utilize bank-supported point-of-sale systems that literally every other industry utilizes without issue. That’s essentially what Nancy Pelosi is arguing in supporting the current version of the Democrats’ COVID relief bill.
Numerous attempts to get legislation that would ensure protections for banks working with cannabis companies have thus far failed in Congress. In addition to pending COVID legislation, the same protections also exist in the form of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
That legislation — though approved by the House back in May — has languished in the Senate Banking Committee with no sign of imminent action. Letters sent to Congress by both a bipartisan coalition of state treasurers as well as a group of 34 state attorneys in support of cannabis banking provisions have thus far failed to yield results.
What’s obvious is that immediate action is required, both for the health benefit it will provide and for the egregious wrong it will remedy. The request supported by Pelosi amounts to giving cannabis companies an equal chance to struggle alongside everyone else. What reason can be offered to deny it?