Senate Majority Leader and surprising ally Mitch McConnell met with cannabis industry executives for at least two days on Oct. 9 and 10 in Southern California, and he toured an undisclosed cannabis facility. First reported by MarketWatch, very little details about the visit have been made public.
One meeting took place in Newport Beach, and another in a nearby area. The purpose of the meeting was to give the group of cannabis executives the chance to present their case of federal cannabis reform including removing penalties for farmers who legally grow hemp.
“We’re happy to see that Leader McConnell is coming to see how a regulated market is an improvement over prohibition,” National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith told MarketWatch. “Right now the priority is banking, which affects [McConnell’s] constituents in the hemp and CBD industry, as well as legal cannabis businesses here in California. That’s really our primary ask—common-sense policies around banking and public safety, and we’re hopeful [McConnell] will see the need for that and move forward along with Chairman [Sen. Mike] Crapo.”
There’s plenty of speculation in the air, given that recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
McConnell was a key player in the approval of the 2018 Farm Bill, which essentially descheduled hemp. But despite his support of industrial hemp, NORML gives McConnell an F grade for his support of cannabis, given that he repeatedly opposed legalization in the past. The recent meetings with cannabis executives, however, could signal a big change in the way he approaches cannabis.
As recently as last May, McConnell said that while he supports hemp, he does not support hemp’s “illicit cousin” cannabis—and many people in the cannabis industry were quick to point out that hemp and
As Senate Majority Leader, McConnell is key to the approval of any federal cannabis or hemp bill in the U.S. Senate.