A group of senators is working on attaching marijuana legislation to the defense bill that will be voted on later this week.
Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon have been working with several Republican senators, including Rand Paul of Kentucky, Steve Daines of Montana, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, to develop legislation that would allow marijuana businesses to access financial services. The legislation would also create grants for states that want to expunge the records of past marijuana convictions.
According to Axios, the senators were able to receive approval from the Department of Justice to modify the bill. In March, the agency told the Senate that it would not be able to carry out its investigations related to the financial activities of marijuana businesses. The senators were able to resolve the issue by amending the bill.
The agency suggested several changes to the bill, mainly related to the section dealing with marijuana-related businesses. According to the agency, this section could provide an immunity from prosecution for certain activities of these businesses. The changes made to the bill ensure that law enforcers would not be hindered in their efforts to combat money laundering and other drug-related crimes.
The Safe Banking Act, which has been passed in the House several times, would allow banks to work with marijuana businesses in states where the drug has been legalized.
In support of the legislation, a group of bipartisan senators noted that it would create jobs and support small businesses by helping the legal marijuana industry grow. Unfortunately, the bill has been stuck in the senate, where some Republican members have expressed their concerns.
Representatives of several Republican senators, including Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, met with the Department of Justice on Monday to talk about their concerns about the legislation. According to the staff members of the senators, they still have significant issues with the bill's new version.
Taylor Foy, a Department of Justice spokesperson, noted that the agency's staff members had raised their concerns about the legislation. However, the legislative text that was marked up by the agency did not address their concerns.
It's not clear if the political appointees at the agency tried to address the concerns of the agency's staff members. However, it's clear that the agency still has major issues with the legislation. According to the agency, it would not be able to rebut allegations that the legislation would increase the risk that drug gangs would use the US financial system to launder their money. Special interest groups have also raised their concerns about the bill.
According to Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, the legislation would allow big tobacco companies to get rich off of the addiction problem by investing in the marijuana industry. He noted that the bill is not about providing the necessary resources to address the issues related to the drug.
He is also concerned that the bill might not be able to gain enough support from Republican members. He noted that it would make a few Republican members very irate. In addition, he said that the legislation would not be germane to other legislation being considered.
Some groups are also raising concerns about the legislation being attached to the annual defense authorization bill, which is required to fund the Department of Defense. Paul Larkin, a legal research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, noted that the bill's provisions would give the Department of Defense too much power.
He also noted that the legislation would put the lives of Americans at risk. Despite the various amendments that were made to the bill, he still believes that the legislation is a cheap political trick.
The preceding is a summary of an article that originally appeared on Washington Examiner.