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Senate GOP Tweets And Then Deletes Criticism Of Marijuana Banking Provision In House COVID Bill

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The Senate Republican Conference (SRC) tweeted—and then promptly deleted—a post on Tuesday that characterized a marijuana banking provision of a new coronavirus relief bill filed by House leadership as a “political-pipe-dream.”

Shortly after the House unveiled its COVID-19 legislation, which included language that would protect banks from being penalized by federal regulators for working with cannabis businesses, the SRC account began listing items in the legislation that it said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had inserted that were not germane.

“THIS is what trying to take advantage of a crisis looks like. Here are some items Speaker Pelosi decided to include in her political-pipe-dream of a bill,” SRC said.

Originally included in Senate GOP’s call-out list was the provisions of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act—a standalone bill that passed the full House along largely bipartisan lines last year and is sponsored on the Senate side by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

After it was pointed by Marijuana Moment’s publisher that Gardner, who is among the most vulnerable GOP senators heading into the November election, is a chief advocate for the legislation, the Republican organization promptly deleted it from the thread, but not before a screenshot was captured.

Marijuana Moment reached out to the office of SRC Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) for comment, but representatives did not immediately respond.

Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment that the “Senate GOP writ-large has time and again proven that they love the criminalization of marijuana and all of the pain it inflicts on otherwise law abiding Americans. They are essentially ghouls.”

Other items that did stay in the GOP Senate conference’s House-bashing thread include: vote-by-mail provisions, reviewing immigration detention cases, funding to combat climate change and grants for the arts and humanities.

The Twitter account for Republicans on the House Oversight Committee also took issue with the marijuana-related language attached to the new bill, writing that adding “[d]iversity provisions for marijuana businesses” was an example of playing “swamp politics.” Presumably it is referring to a section of the SAFE Banking Act that requires that Government Accountability Office to study barriers to financial access for minority- and women-owned cannabis businesses.

“In Nancy Pelosi’s wish list bill, the word ‘cannabis’ appears 68 times,” the post continued. “That’s more than the word healthcare (22), tests (62), or patients (13).”

The House is expected to take up the COVID-19 relief package as early as Friday. It’s unclear how the GOP-controlled Senate will approach the banking provision.

The SAFE Banking Act was approved by the House in a floor vote last year and has languished in the Senate Banking Committee in the months since. Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) has recommended certain changes to the legislation, and Gardner said earlier this year that a deal is “close.” 

Advancing the bill on the Senate side would give Gardner a much-needed win to bring home to his constituents ahead of the election. A recent poll showed him down almost 20 points against former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D).

Gardner has made it apparent that he is eager to secure the cannabis industry vote in the race, applauding marijuana businesses in a floor speech in March for helping in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by producing items like cotton swabs that have been in short supply.

Marijuana Banking Access Included In House Leadership’s Coronavirus Relief Bill

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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