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Congress must demand answers before giving the marijuana industry the green light

Tboosts it marijuana stocks from President Joe Biden’s the latest announcement was short-lived. But the marijuana industry’s hope for a political jackpot remains. Biden’s order to the administration to review the schedule of marijuana under federal law sets off a protracted and uncertain process.

The Safe and Fair Enforcement (or SAFE) Banking Act is now the focus of industries impatient for a short-term win. While Biden highlighted the urgent need to protect young people, their health and well-being are typically overlooked in the SAFE Banking promotional drumbeat.


Those fighting for its passage say it’s about reducing pharmacy robberies and providing access banking services. But it is much more than that. This adds billions of dollars to the value of marijuana big business. Just follow the money — especially lobbying by corporate interests to get the bill into law.

The stakes are high. The SAFE Banking Act gives them unlimited access to Wall Street funding and the world’s most profitable capital markets. With a development this clear, one would think the industry would agree to some protection for children, but supporters are silent when it comes to the best interests of young people.

Congressional leaders must consider a fundamental question: How is “marijuana” defined in terms of products and effects? The patchwork of state and local marijuana regulation has not been able to keep up with today’s products and the constant innovations of the THC industry. Many of these products bear little resemblance to what most people think of as “marijuana.”

Foods containing THC, candies and drinks deceptively mimic everyday (and kid-friendly) foods, candies and drinks. Highly concentrated “wax” and “resin” for rubbing are not available in serving sizes. Even today’s buds and flowers are genetically modified and bred for unprecedentedly high THC potential.

This created an extremely dangerous split in public opinion. Young people are constantly bombarded by youth-friendly branding, promotions and advertisements.

Cannabis evangelists say that such products are not harmful and can even be a cure for any ailment or stress. But the risks of use can be very serious, as reported in one state educational document.

The SAFE Banking Act will turbocharge marijuana distribution before the right product, efficacy, and policy decisions are made. The last thing Congress can afford to do is repeat the devastating lessons learned from policy mistakes on harmful substances. Congress should demand more from those who benefit significantly, especially when many states are already struggling with drug crises.

Colorado’s newest youth survey showed that high school students are three times more likely to use ultra-potent THC than adults. THC today, it is the number one substance found in the bloodstreams of people who claim suicide between the ages of 10 and 24 in Colorado.

Before Congress considers granting industry extensive and widespread access to our nation’s lucrative financial markets, it must demand some basic protections for young people. A requirement for basic youth safeguards and sufficient product transparency and accountability should be part of SAFE Banking or any major marijuana legislation – it shouldn’t be a problem.


Diane Carlson is the company’s co-founder and policy director OneChance to Grow Up, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a 10-year history of marijuana policy, education, and community empowerment for children.

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