Please Contact Senators Tillis and Burr
By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
October 4, 2019
Wednesday of last week, the United States House of Representatives passed HR 1595 – Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019, commonly known as The SAFE Banking Act.
The measure passed overwhelmingly 321 to 103 with 91 Republicans voting for it, and only one Democrat, Alabama Representative Terry Sewell, voting against it.
All of North Carolina’s Democratic Representatives voted for it: Alma Adams, G.K. Butterfield, and David Price. All North Carolina Republican Representatives voted “No,” including George Holding, Virginia Fox, Mark Walker, David Rouzer, Richard Hudson, and Mark Meadows.
Because the federal government, fortunately, continues to list marijuana as a Schedule I drug, companies selling pot in states where it’s legal have had only minimal access to banking services like loans, lines of credit, and sometimes checking accounts. Banks and credit unions are nervous about possible criminal repercussions for assisting the marijuana business. Proponents of HR 1595 argue this makes the cannabis industry to be dominated by cash, which creates security concerns and unfair expansionary constraints. The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act would protect financial institutions in states where sales of cannabis are legal and want to do business with marijuana companies.
“The Safe Banking Act at first glance might appear to be a good idea, especially for places where marijuana use is legal, but there are much weightier concerns than protections for banks. What about public health and safety? What about protections for our citizens? That ought to always come first,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Creech added, “If this is all about making it easier to track transactions, why not give all drug dealers banking access? Wouldn’t that make everyone safer? The argument is absurd.”
SAM: Smart Approaches to Marijuana, says the measure might also be called the VAPE Banking Act.
SAM points out that the nation is currently facing a severe vaping crisis with over 800 confirmed cases of mysterious lung illnesses, and over 70% of these cases were related to vaping THC. The crisis is so bad that the CDC just issued a warning urging Americans to “refrain from the use of vaping products, particularly those containing THC,” the addictive, intoxicating chemical found in high potency marijuana extracts.
SAM contends that the SAFE Banking Act provides no public health guardrails to deal with the pot vaping crisis or the potently flavored marijuana vapes that the Surgeon General warned about back in August.
“The SAFE Banking Act would allow billions in investment into the same illegal marijuana companies that are creating marijuana vapes like those that are causing the crisis,” warns SAM.
In an interview on the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch radio program, Luke Niforatos, Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor at SAM, told listeners the bill should pose serious concerns for people who are concerned about family-related issues.
Niforatos said he lives in Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal.
“I’m raising my three-year-old daughter in Colorado, in a legal marijuana state,” said Niforatos. “And it’s been absolutely a horrific thing to face each day as a parent, you know, just, for example, my daughter being covered in second-hand marijuana smoke every time we take her out for a walk in the city of Denver. So, it has a real impact on the family, and it’s something I’m very concerned about.”
Niforatos added that vaping had become an enormous crisis, having contributed to at least 12 deaths nationwide, and a number of the vaping products were bought from legally run state marijuana stores. He says that passing the Safe Banking Act would only pour “tons more money for these companies to create more marijuana vaping oils, more marijuana vapes, which would feed into the crisis.”
“It defies comprehension that the House would pass this, and now, it’s in the Senate, and you have a number of senators who, you know, you have Senator Marco Rubio, who tweets Bible verses every day, I know he’s in his Bible, and yet even he is being swayed by this argument that, you know, [that the] marijuana industry needs access to these banks. They need to hear from everyone, loud and clear, that there’s a vaping crisis going on. The last thing we should do is to allow money into this industry that’s putting out these marijuana vapes,” said Niforatos.
Rev. Creech noted that it’s a well-established fact that alcohol manufacturers don’t make their money off the casual drinkers; they make their profits from heavy users.
“Heavy drinkers become heavy drinkers most often because they start drinking early in life, so alcohol manufacturers have an incentive to target young people,” he said.
“This is why the marijuana industry right now is actively promoting underage vaping through the creation of flavored THC vapes, and marketing THC vapes on social media,” continued Rev. Creech. “According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, because of the marijuana industry’s strategy, there has been a 63% increase in underage vaping of marijuana between the years 2017-2018. So why would Congress want to facilitate underage use of flavored marijuana vapes and expanded deadly lung illnesses by pumping millions and millions of dollars into such an evil business as marijuana?”
“I don’t hate the people involved, but I hate the business. As a lobbyist for the Christian Action League, I’ve seen first-hand the corruption of both the alcohol and tobacco industries on our halls of power, and now we’re unlocking the doors for another to come in. It’s not only frightening. It’s insane.”
The SAFE Banking Act could be taken up by the United States Senate as early as the end of October. The Christian Action League urges its supporters to contact the offices of Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis to register their opposition to HR 1595 – Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019.
Call Sen. Richard Burr at either his Washington or Winston Salem office.
Washington Office: 202.224.3154
Winston-Salem Office: 800.685.8916
Call Sen. Thom Tillis at his Washington office or access the link below to phone one of his North Carolina offices listed.
Washington Office: 202.224.6342
Link to NC offices: https://www.tillis.senate.gov/office-locations