Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is meeting with marijuana industry executives in Southern California this week and is scheduled to tour a cannabis facility there—a development indicating that the senator is increasingly willing to engage with stakeholders of hemp’s “illicit cousin,” as he describes it.
As first reported by MarketWatch, McConnell was scheduled to discuss cannabis banking issues on Wednesday and Thursday, just weeks after the House of Representatives passed a bill to protect financial institutions that service state-legal marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators. Industry participants have been working to convince the senator to allow a vote on the legislation in his chamber.
Sources familiar with McConnell’s California cannabis activities vaguely discussed the plans with Marijuana Moment, but did not provide a list of invited meeting attendees or the name of the facility he is touring.
The majority leader has been a strong champion of hemp, shepherding a provision of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the crop and its derivatives to passage. But he’s been a staunch critic of broader marijuana reform, and so the meetings with industry executives comes as something of a surprise.
Marijuana Moment reached out to McConnell’s office for comment on the meetings, but representatives did not respond by the time of publication.
Earlier this week, Fox News host Laura Ingraham publicly urged McConnell not to allow a vote on the marijuana banking legislation, raising fears that it would free up industry money that would go toward campaign contributions to Democrats.
Photo element courtesy of Gage Skidmore.