Fetterman Grills Witness on Weed Legalization at Banking Hearing

John Fettermanimage via Office of John Fetterman

On Thursday, Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman participated in a Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing on the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, where he used his time to grill witness Kevin Sabet, President and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, on his opposition to marijuana legalization.

Senator Fetterman pressed Mr. Sabet on the data of marijuana-related deaths compared to deaths resulting from alcohol, tobacco, over-the-counter painkillers, and opioids. Mr. Sabet admitted there were no known cases of deaths caused by THC overdoses. He also asked Mr. Sabet if Canada has “slid into anarchy” as a result of recently legalizing cannabis. Mr. Sabet confirmed it had not.

“We need to make it legal. I just believe it’s a freedom issue. I’ve given hundreds of pardons to people who have had their lives ruined by a B.S. charge,” said Senator Fetterman.

The SAFE Banking Act is a bipartisan bill that would ensure that legal cannabis businesses have access to critical banking and financial services by protecting banks that work with state-legal cannabis businesses from being penalized by federal regulators. Ensuring state-legal cannabis businesses have access to banking and financial services also addresses critical worker safety concerns in the industry by preventing the need for under-regulated cash-only operations.

Legal weed is an issue that Senator Fetterman has been championing long before his time in Washington. As Lieutenant Governor, Fetterman held a statewide listening tour on recreational cannabis legalization. Along with Governor Wolf, he launched a month-long pardon program for Pennsylvanians convicted of marijuana possession to apply for a pardon. During his Senate campaign, Fetterman advocated to end the failed war on drugs, legalizing marijuana, expunge the records of those convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses, and prevent the monopolization of this vibrant new industry. Last year, he pressed President Joe Biden to decriminalize marijuana during the president’s visit to Pittsburgh in September 2022, and just one month later the president decided to pardon those convicted of simple marijuana possession.

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Senator Fetterman believes the SAFE Banking Act is a necessary step — but it can’t be the last. He believes that full legalization is critical for jobs, revenue, justice, and our veterans.

A recording of Senator Fetterman’s questions can be found here, and the full hearing can be found here.

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