Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), a high-profile supporter of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, has been caught on video with $70,000 in drug money. The footage, provided exclusively to The Huffington Post, also captures Rep. Earl Blumenauer, another Oregon Democrat, as well as a prominent local businessman, Tyson Haworth.
The video, however, was not a sting operation run by the Drug Enforcement Administration or FBI. Instead, it’s an effort to highlight a gaping and dangerous hole in national cannabis policy, if such a thing even exists.
Under federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it is deemed to be highly dangerous with zero medical benefit. Even in states that have legalized cannabis, such as Oregon, possessing it remains a federal crime, as is possessing any revenue derived from dealings related to it.
That puts businesspeople like Haworth, an owner of Oregon’s Finest and sofresh farms, in tricky territory on a number of fronts. The most glaring danger, highlighted by the video, is that $70,000 in cash sitting on the table in front of Merkley, Haworth and Blumenauer. It’s money that Haworth owes in local taxes, but he can’t cut a check, because banks can’t legally work with drug dealers. Banks tend to take that law seriously when rejecting mom-and-pop pot shops, but somehow manage to look the other way for Mexican drug cartels that funnel billions through those same banks.