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EXCLUSIVE — Sen. Lummis: Cannabis banking compromise will “protect” gun manufacturers
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EXCLUSIVE — Sen. Lummis: Cannabis banking compromise will “protect” gun manufacturers

Ep. 2 — Sen. Cynthia Lummis is all-in on the SAFER Banking Act, even if she doesn't “like the smell of marijuana. It just stinks.” (9-21-2023)
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My backyard / carport alley. Photo: Matt Laslo

Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) is no fan of cannabis—“I don't like the smell of marijuana. It just stinks.”—but she supports a new compromise cannabis measure, because it will “protect” her state’s gun manufacturing industry.

“My interest in it, as someone who is opposed to having legal marijuana in my state, is, there are other businesses that struggle to have access to banking, because they're disfavored,” Lummis exclusively tells Ask a Pol. “In my state, I worry about gun manufacturers.”

The SAFE Banking Act floated around the past few sessions of Congress, but senators failed to bridge the partisan divide. That measure’s now the SAFER (Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation) Banking Act, and it’s speeding through the Senate.

The broadly bipartisan measure aims to give locally-legal cannabis companies access to the nation’s financial system, which they’ve been locked out of due to the federal prohibition on marijuana. 

Overall, Lummis sees the marijuana measure—which is already slated for a markup in the Senate Banking Committee next Wednesday—as a win for states like Wyoming. 

“I look at this bill as a way to protect industries like the firearms manufacturing industry and oil and gas from the inability to access capital,” Lummis says.

The libertarian-leaning former member of the House of Representatives says both Republicans and Democrats chalked up wins and losses throughout their negotiations which stretched on for months.

“I do approach things from a 10th Amendment perspective, and so if a state passes legalized marijuana, to me, that's a state decision and that those businesses in those states should have access to banks,” Lummis says. “That doesn't mean I want it to be legal in Wyoming, it just doesn't smell good.”

I’ve covered cannabis in Congress for Rolling Stone, Playboy, VICE News and the Daily Beast—subscribe and I’ll cover it for you!

Since 2006, Matt Laslo’s covered drug policy—from its medicinal promises to the justice system—for Rolling Stone, Playboy, VICE/ VICE News Tonight, The Daily Beast, NPR, et. He runs The LCB—a regionally-focused, national wire service—and he lectures on new media at Johns Hopkins University (MA)

I come from 4 generations of landscapers. Photo: Matt Laslo

Ask a Pol is a new, people-powered press corps, asking your lawmakers your questions at your US Capitol. Follow us on the socials @Ask_a_Pol (or @askpols on Insta). 

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Below find a rough transcript of Ask a Pol’s exclusive with Sen. Cynthia Lummis, slightly edited for clarity.

Matt Laslo: “How are you?” 

Cynthia Lummis: “I’m good. How are you?”

ML: “Livin the dream.”

CL: laughs

ML: “I bet you’re glad you’re no longer in the House.” 

CL: “Well, it’s a little messy, but they'll resolve it. They always do.”

ML: “Umm, SAFERRR Banking. Have to say, I’m a little surprised that that thing came together. It seems like both sides had to—what's that word?—‘compromise.’”

CL: “Yeah, there's a lot of give and take there. My interest in it, as someone who is opposed to having legal marijuana in my state, is, there are other businesses that struggle to have access to banking, because they're disfavored. In my state, I worry about gun manufacturers.”

ML: “Interesting.” 

CL: “We have a really robust gun manufacturing industry. Some of the best firearms in the country and the ammunition…”

ML: “Who? I come from a family of hunters…” 

CL: “Well, Freedom Arms is in Wyoming. And Magpul just moved to Wyoming from Colorado, because Colorado passed a law reducing the amount of the magazines.” 

ML: “Oh, interesting. So they just said, ‘We’re hoppin the state line.’” 

CL: “It was an economic development play for us. So, oil and gas is another industry that is encountering ESG restrictions that pinch their ability to find adequate access to capital. So I look at this bill as a way to protect industries like the firearms manufacturing industry and oil and gas from the inability to access capital.” 

ML: “You can't really say that out loud to Democrats while negotiating? Can you?”  

CL: “Umm, I suspect that they know that. You know, I do approach things from a 10th Amendment perspective, and so if a state passes legalized marijuana, to me, that's a state decision and that those businesses in those states should have access to banks. That doesn't mean I want it to be legal in Wyoming, it just doesn't smell good.”

ML: “Hmmm.”

CL: “I don't like the smell of marijuana. It just stinks.” 

ML: “Really?” 

CL: “It just stinks.” 

ML: “Come on over, I’ve got four big plants—they smell pretty.” 

Fun fact: In Rolling Stone, I invited Sen. Elizabeth Warren to try marijuana for the first time at my crib—she didn’t say noPhoto: Matt Laslo

Lummis cracks up. 

CL: “I love it.” 

ML: “For you—because that’s interesting—how would this, I guess I need to study it more. But how would this—I guess, if you’re tweaking some banking provisions, you're saying the tweaks extend out broader than just the one industry.” 

CL: “Broader than marijuana. Absolutely.” 

ML: “Interesting. I'll look into it.”

CL: “Okay.” 

ML: “As always, preciate ya. Have a good one.” 

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