Hemp, Vets, and Banking: There was a lot of intriguing marijuana news in the press last week; Sen. Mitch McConnell cultivated new industrial hemp legislation, congressional leaders supported veterans through medical marijuana research, and seven senators encouraged bank access for marijuana-related businesses.
In other words, it was another busy week for progressive marijuana policy.
Hemp, Hemp, Hooray
On Monday, Kentucky’s senior Sen. Mitch McConnell announced he wants to legalize industrial hemp cultivation by removing it from the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). Declared in his home state of Kentucky, the leader of the U.S. Senate informed a group of hemp advocates that he’ll be filing legislation to legalize the beneficial crop as an agricultural commodity when he returns to the nation’s capital next week.
“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” McConnell noted in a press release. While hemp cultivation was initially granted partial protection within the 2014 federal Farm Bill, McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will “legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances,” according to Sen. McConnell’s prepared statement.
Medical Marijuana for Veterans
While the Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin was unceremoniously ousted last week via a tweet from POTUS, U.S. Representative Lou Correa (D-46 District) and the Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Congressman Tim Walz (D-1st District), issued a press release calling for funds to research the efficacy of medical marijuana for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It is imperative to the health and safety of our veterans that we find alternative treatments for chronic pain and service-related injuries,” Rep. Correa wrote. “Throughout my district, I meet veterans who depend on cannabis to manage their pain. Numerous veterans attest to the treatment benefits of medical cannabis. It’s time the VA did a formal study.”
As for Rep. Walz, he underscored the importance of supporting our troops with effectual medicine: “For far too long, we’ve known medicinal cannabis can have life-saving effects on veterans suffering from chronic pain and PTSD, and yet, there has been a severe lack of research studying the drug’s full effect on these veterans.”
With Shulkin now out, advocates hope the new VA secretary will withdraw the VA’s internal policy that prohibits physicians from discussing or recommending medicinal cannabis in states that have made it legal.
Banking that Green
On Wednesday, a group of U.S. senators sent a letter to Mike Crapo (R-2nd District), the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, encouraging the committee to hold a legislative hearing on the Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
“A legislative hearing would provide members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs the opportunity to question witnesses on the proposed bipartisan legislation. It would also allow for a better understanding of the current state of financial services for cannabis-related businesses, the need for legal certainty for financial institutions, and other important issues relating to financial services and the cannabis industry,” the bipartisan letter read.
By legalizing hemp cultivation, allowing vets access to medicinal cannabis and modifying federal banking policy, our elected officials would not only add billions in state revenue … they would be creating greater consumer safety for their constituents.