Booker Concedes Businesses Will Go out of Business Without SAFE,
Agrees to Look into Felon Access for the Hemp Industry
April 20, 2023
WASHINGTON – Minorities for Medical Marijuana, the largest community-based nonprofit in the cannabis and hemp industry, spent their 4/20 week walking the halls of Congress for their annual Lobby Days. The event culminated with Thursday morning’s Judiciary Committee Markup where a large faction of the organization assembled to address Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ), one of the industry’s staunchest supporters. While the group thanked him for his efforts and support, they urged the Senator to also look at bringing relief to the industry by passing the SAFE Banking Act and to include a provision for better access to the capital markets.
“We’ve been doing this for seven years now and so this is the time for us really, we have just got to see some incremental changes. Access to capital is the biggest issue. SAFE Banking is going to do that from the Depository, but if we can also look at having safe havens for institutional investors and capital markets that could be the opportunity because not only do I run this nonprofit, but I’m a business owner and getting access to capital right now. It is impossible almost,“ said Roz McCarthy, Founder of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, and Owner of Black Buddha Cannabis.
Senator Booker acknowledged the struggle that exists for many minority businesses in the space
“One of our biggest drives and my team knows this, is trying to make sure that entrepreneurs, especially nontraditional entrepreneurs, Black, Brown folks who've been disproportionately targeted by the war on marijuana, have economic opportunity. And right now, the scorecard is horrible. It's horrible, horrible.
We know you support social justice and social equity opportunities, but we also have to be pragmatic about what’s going to pass. And this is where we are right now, but what can we do to get incremental changes passed?” McCarthy added.
“We’ve got a good deal, we had one last Congress and it got stomped at the one-yard line, it was almost there, and we are working to resurrect it now. And working to get it over the line this Congress because as I said to my team if we have to wait another two years, it literally means that 100s of businesses go out of business,” responded Booker.
The group also urged the Senator and Senator Ossoff (D-GA) who was in the committee room, to focus on new hemp provisions that could be added to the upcoming Farm Bill to help those affected by the War on Drugs to gain better access to the hemp sector.
“We want to see the Farm Bill have more language in there that is going to support felons that want to get into the industry and also being able to make it expansive for Black farmers. We know they have had a hard time in other sectors, this is it, hemp is where it is, hemp is a future crop,” said McCarthy.
“The hemp stuff is kind of new to me….,” said Booker
His response evoked audible gasps from the advocacy group, but he quickly recovered.
“But it’s not new to my team, I know they support it, but I didn’t know about the felony ban there, so let’s figure out what we can do,” added Booker.
Gretchen Gailey Founder, Panoptic Strategies