Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren joined her colleagues in asking for a sane banking policy that will allow state-regulated cannabis businesses to have access to financial services. I am extremely proud to have voted for two senators, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, who joined the onto the letter as well.
Regardless of whether you support legalization of cannabis or not, you should agree that businesses legal in their own states should be able to utilize banks. Current federal policy forces many businesses to maintain large amounts of cash, endangering our local communities with an increased threat of armed robberies and just tempting entrepreneurs to avoid paying taxes. Even if you oppose legalization, you should want safer neighborhoods and for all business owners to pay their share of taxes.
As Tom Angell of Marijuana.com reported, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn lampooned Warren for her position on cannabis business banking, somehow missing that a fellow Republican had signed onto the letter as well. As Angell noted, Cornyn was then taken to task by a staffer of Republican Senator Rand Paul.
Elizabeth Warren is an early frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and has the ability to bring together both the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton wings of the party. Now, I #FeelTheBern as much as anyone, but the reality of Father Time is that Bernie will unlikely to be running for president at age 79. Warren will be 71.
A lot can change in a few years, but Senator Warren has the inside track on the nomination if she wants it. I’m a fan of Corey Booker and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard as well, but Warren is the only likely candidate with strong name recognition and support at the moment. In a recent Public Policy Polling survey, Joe Biden received 31% support from Democratis, Senator Sanders garnered 24% and Warren finished third with 16%. Corey Booker was next at 4%. (I like Joe Biden personally, but he’s been terrible on the Drug War and would need to disavow prohibition before I would ever consider him as a viable candidate.)
Senator Warren has previously stated that she was “open” to legalization, which recently passed in her home state. The progressive icon has also urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the use of medicinal marijuana as an alternative to the opioid painkillers that cause the deaths of thousands of people every year. The cannabis community should rally behind Elizabeth Warren if she joins the strong majority in the Democratic Party and the rest of the country and calls for the end of federal cannabis prohibition.
Failing to support legalization could lead Warren to be outflanked by another candidate and could hurt her chances to win the general election. I think that Warren will come around and eventually join Bernie Sanders in wanting to end marijuana prohibition, but the cannabis community will need to support her when she supports us, but make it clear that we will only support candidates that strive to treat the cannabis community as truly equal citizens.