(Rockville Centre, NY) - Today, a coalition of concerned parents, substance abuse professionals, and law enforcement hosted a press conference urging Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer to oppose efforts to extend banking access to the marijuana industry in the midst of the pot vaping crisis.
"As a parent, I am gravely concerned that our leadership in Congress could even begin to think now is the time to reward the marijuana industry with such a large handout,” said Melissa Robbins, a parent concerned with the youth vaping epidemic and subsequent health crisis. "Everyday I turn on the news, another death, another round of reports of illness caused by pot vaping. How many more families must suffer before our government gets the message? "
"We are in the midst of a five-alarm fire health crisis,” said Ruthanne McCormack, Project Coordinator for the Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth. “People are getting sick and dying from marijuana vapes, the opioid epidemic continues to rattle our country to its core, and the Surgeon General is doing everything he can to warn our young people to the health dangers of marijuana while our lawmakers rush to promote the commercial industry. Now is not the time to reward the peddlers of addiction."
The press conference highlighted the litany of concerns with allowing the marijuana industry banking access. Chief among these concerns is the ongoing marijuana vaping crisis, now responsible for over 1,600 cases of debilitating illness and at least 33 deaths. Notably, at least two deaths and numerous cases of the illness have been linked to the purchase of "legal" marijuana products.
"As a former director of the Westchester Intelligence Center, I know firsthand the strength and the intelligence of drug traffickers," said William Hayes, former Bedford Police Chief and former Executive Director of the Office of the Westchester County District Attorney.
"Make no mistake, banking access would be a boon for cartels and other criminal organizations seeking to launder money through the industry."
As has been
out by former Drug Enforcement Agency Administrators and White House Drug Czars, criminal gangs and foreign cartels are extremely active in states that have "legalized" the production and use of marijuana, using the state-legal status as cover for massive trafficking operations. If Congress allows the marijuana industry access to the financial system, these drug traffickers would have unprecedented access to money laundering opportunities.
"Banking access for the marijuana industry will put pedal to the metal on Big Marijuana exploiting communities of color and low income,” said Abu Edwards, Director of State Affairs for SAM Action. “Additionally, with such a hazy understanding of the health effects of high potency marijuana and potentially fatal products on the market, any expansion and promotion of increased marijuana use is misguided."