Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says he and his colleagues refuse to take up cannabis banking reform legislation until his legalization bill advances in Congress.
During an interview on the Psychoactive podcast, Schumer said that he, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) have agreed to halt the progress of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act unless the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act is given a fair shake. “If we let this bill out, it will make it much harder and take longer to pass comprehensive reform,” said Schumer. “We certainly want the provisions similar to the SAFE Banking Act in our bill. But to get more moderate people—to get some Republicans, to get the financial services industry behind a comprehensive bill—is the way to go. It’s the right thing to do.”
The SAFE Banking Act would allow financial institutions to do business with cannabis companies without the threat of federal prosecution for working with criminal organizations. Currently, banks could potentially face penalties for offering financial services to pot companies because of the federal ban. This means that many in the industry are forced to operate on a cash only basis, making security a major concern.
But advocates say that the SAFE Banking Act would give banks the freedom to capitalize off of the industry without implementing any major cannabis reforms. By keeping the bill from succeeding, pressure to change cannabis laws will likely increase.
During a public appearance in July, Booker said he would block the SAFE Banking Act from pushing through ahead of broader reform. “I will lay myself down to do everything I can to stop an easy banking bill that’s going to allow all these corporations to make a lot more money off of this instead of focusing on restorative justice aspects,” he said.
Schumer told the Psychoactive host that he would be willing to incorporate aspects of the SAFE Banking Act into his legalization bill but stressed that passing the banking bill alone would only push back efforts to reform the nation’s cannabis laws.
NBA Will Not Random Test This Season
The National Basketball Association announced last week that it will not be subjecting players to random drug tests during the next season.
The move doesn’t surprise many fans, since NBA suspended marijuana testing during the COVID-19 hiatus, didn’t test during the “restart bubble” and didn’t test last season.
The Associated Press reports that NBA will continue to drug test for performance enhancing drugs like human growth hormone and steroids as well as illicit “drugs of abuse” like methamphetamine and cocaine.
“We have agreed with the [National Basketball Players Association] to extend the suspension of random testing for marijuana for the 2021-22 season and focus our random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said last week.
With the increasing number of states opting to legalize cannabis and estimates from NBC Sports that 50 to 85 percent of players use the drug, it seems likely that marijuana will be removed from the list of banned substances in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told Today last year that the change might become permanent in the future. “We decided that, given all the things that were happening in society, given all the pressures and stress that players were under, that we didn’t need to act as Big Brother right now,” he told reporters.
The NBA will continue to test “for cause”—in cases where players have a history of abuse and other special circumstances.
Mexico Forwards Cannabis Legalization Bill
Mexican lawmakers say the country is set to legalize cannabis in the next legislative session.
In June, Mexico’s Supreme Court declared cannabis criminalization illegal and ordered lawmakers to create regulations for its use, manufacture and distribution. But legislators have repeatedly failed to meet deadlines and pass comprehensive regulations for a cannabis market over the last three years.
According to Marijuana Moment Mexican Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal said he plans to get the job done during the current session.
“With the beginning of the LXV Legislature, a new possibility was opened to discuss and approve this long-delayed law, which would put an end to 100 years of prohibitionist policy and criminalization of the consumption of the cannabis flower, opening, in turn, a multimillion dollar market nationally and internationally, which could be beneficial for the economic reactivation of our country,” he said in a press release.
Under a proposed bill, adults 18 and older would be able to purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants for personal use. Advocates have criticized the bill for its lack of equity features and strict penalties, but Monreal said the bill is just a draft and can still be revised. “The idea is to regulate the use of cannabis and not ignore a prohibitionist approach that generated a great social problem in the country,” he said.
Study: Vaping Injuries Lower Where Legalized
According to a brand new study, lung injuries associated with black market THC oil cartridges starting in 2019 were more prevalent in states where cannabis remains illegal.
In a National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded study published last month in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers found that incidents of e-cigarette and vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) happened less frequently in states where adult-use cannabis access is high or individuals are allowed to grow marijuana for personal use.
States where adult-use cannabis was legal in 2019 reportedly had 42 percent fewer cases of EVALI. The study found that general medical cannabis legalization did not significantly affect the statistics, but states that allowed home cultivation had 60 percent fewer cases of EVALI compared to those where it was illegal.
This comes as no surprise since EVALI is associated with black market THC cartridges cut with vitamin E acetate, phytol or pine rosin—all of which are toxic to humans.