Up in smoke: Marijuana advocates dealt massive hit thanks to McConnell opposition

Missouri Marijuana
FILE – Michael Stonebarger sorts young cannabis plants at a marijuana farm operated by Greenlight, on Oct. 31, 2022, in Grandview, Mo. As of Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, it is legal for adults to possess and use marijuana in Missouri. That does not mean you can legally buy it just yet, or use it everywhere. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) Charlie Riedel/AP

Up in smoke: Marijuana advocates dealt massive hit thanks to McConnell opposition

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Marijuana advocates were given a massive setback after the Senate did not include a provision to remove federal restrictions on cannabis businesses from receiving banking services in the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill.

The provision, which would have been modeled after the House’s SAFE Banking Act, was excluded from the Senate’s spending bill, likely thanks to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has been a fierce opponent of the legislation.

The CEO of the U.S. Cannabis Council, a pro-marijuana group, said of the provision’s exclusion, “To say that we are disappointed is an understatement.”

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“In failing to enact the SAFE Banking Act, the Senate missed an opportunity to pass one of the rare pieces of legislation that has the support of both Republicans and Democrats, along with the majority of the American people. Not only did the Senate squander a chance to score a bipartisan victory this year, its inaction threatens public safety and undermines the progress states are making in mending the racial inequities of the war on drugs,” Khadijah Tribble said in a statement.

McConnell helped remove the provision from the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act earlier this month, celebrating its removal during a speech on the Senate floor.

“Just as Republicans insisted, just as our service members deserve, this NDAA is not getting dragged down by unrelated liberal nonsense. Good, smart policies were kept in, and unrelated nonsense like easier financing for illegal drugs was kept out,” McConnell said. “I’m glad this Democrat-led Congress finally realized that defending America is a basic governing duty. It’s not some Republican priority that Democrats can demand unrelated goodies to be wheeled into it.”

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The SAFE Banking Act was originally passed in the House in April 2021 by a 321-101 margin, with 106 Republicans voting in the affirmative. Provisions in the Senate modeled after the act have been stalled various times, and the bill will likely not be acted on in the Senate before the next Congress.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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