The HEROES Act faces GOP opposition with the inclusion of the SAFE Banking Act. Oregon democratic Representative, Earl Blumenauer, introduced a new bill that will offer cannabis workers some COVID-19 relief.
HR 6800, Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act was read and closed for amendments on May 14, 2020. While the bill is a step in the right direction for the cannabis industry, it leaves the workers no better off than they were when the Coronavirus hit.
The SAFE Banking Act would offer financial institutions the ability to provide services to the cannabis industry without federal backlash. The bill “prohibits a federal banking regulator from penalizing a depository institution for providing banking services to a legitimate marijuana-related business.” This is a huge step in the right direction for the industry.
Cannabis retailers have not legally been able to use banks or credit cards, forcing the industry to deal strictly in cash in most instances. Passing the HEROES Act would make this process easier and safer for both company and consumer. But nowhere in the bill does it make any reference to the workers on the frontline in all-retail locations.
These folks meet with patients face-to-face everyday. Like the pharmacy, the dispensaries are deemed essential to provide needed medication to thousands of medical cannabis clients. According to Organtica owner, Dave Turner, “most cannabis companies are not really hurting right now, if anything we are seeing a bump. Things are heavier then we anticipated.” Heavier traffic puts the worker at an even higher risk than before.
On April 23, 2020, H.R. 6602, the Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act was introduced and referred to the House Committee on Small Business. The bill would allow the SBA to provide services without risk of penalty, such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act. This allows the funding the industry needs to keep business going and good people employed.
This, my friend, is not the problem. In the initial HEROES Act, a $13 an hour increase to all frontline workers was mentioned. Will this or any other bill protect the cannabis worker and offer them the same?