Cannabis News of Note for the Week:

Benzinga: Cannabis Banking Reform ‘Closer Than Ever,’ D.C. Insiders Tell Benzinga Conference: Cannabis ETF On The Move Tuesday

Politico Pro Cannabis (4/19): Rosen Introduces HOPE Act in the Senate (paywalled newsletter, text below)

Cannabis Wire (4/19): National Conference of State Legislatures reiterates strong support of SAFER Banking Act (paywalled newsletter, text below)

Bloomberg Law: Push for Stablecoin Law Gets Surprise Boost from Sherrod Brown (paywalled article, text attached)

Punchbowl News AM (4/17): Senate stablecoin bill drops as Warren pushes for Treasury AML boost (newsletter, text below)

Marijuana Moment: Senator Presses Attorney General Garland On Marijuana Banking Bill’s Impact On Criminal Investigations

Marijuana Moment: Bipartisan Lawmakers Discuss Marijuana Banking Bill Prospects, With GOP Senator Worrying Reform Will Promote Fentanyl Trafficking

Marijuana Moment: Justice Department Is Investigating Marijuana-Related Businesses Over COVID Relief Loans, Industry Sources Say


Cannabis Reports of Note for the Week:

Politico Pro: Most marijuana users prefer weed to alcohol, cigarettes (paywalled article, full text below)

Americans Use Marijuana At Nearly The Same Rate In Legal And Non-Legal States, Suggesting Criminalization Doesn’t ‘Curtail’ Consumption, Gallup Poll Finds

Marijuana Legalization Reduces Likelihood Of Teen Use, Study Published By American Medical Association Finds



Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) introduced a bill Thursday to fund state-level expungements for some cannabis-related offenses. The original bill — known as the HOPE Act — was introduced in the House this Congress and last Congress by Reps. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), but until now had not been introduced in the Senate.

The bill, which does not have any cosponsors, has been named over the last few years as a possible companion to the cannabis banking bill that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has deemed a priority. Schumer reiterated his interest in the bill on Thursday, though Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), a cosponsor of the banking bill, said he hasn’t heard the HOPE Act floated lately in discussions about how to get the banking bill over the finish line.

Most recently, discussions have centered on adding the cannabis banking bill to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization alongside stablecoin legislation. Whether the HOPE Act might tag along with that plan is unclear.

Rosen’s announcement came ahead of the April 20 cannabis holiday, and was surprisingly the only major cannabis-related piece of legislation introduced on Capitol Hill this week.

Cannabis Wire (4/19): National Conference of State Legislatures reiterates strong support of SAFER Banking Act

The CEO of the National Conference of State Legislatures sent Congressional leaders a letter this week that reiterated the group’s support for the SAFER Banking Act. NCSL is a group that represents legislatures from states, territories and commonwealths.

“The inability of legal state cannabis businesses to receive financial services from the federal banking system creates an unsafe position for these legal entities, as well as taxation and compliance problems for states that have exercised their authority to legalize cannabis,” wrote Tim Storey, the CEO of NCSL.

“Cannabis will remain illegal under the SAFER Banking Act, and we strongly believe that supporting this legislation is not akin to endorsing its legalization under federal or state law.”

Punchbowl News AM (4/17): Senate stablecoin bill drops as Warren pushes for Treasury AML boost

News: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) published the text of their much-anticipated stablecoin legislation this morning. It’s a move designed in part to nudge along separate negotiations in the House.

The bill, formally dubbed the Lummis-Gillibrand Payment Stablecoin Act, would introduce a broad set of safeguards to a type of digital asset that’s generally used to facilitate other crypto transactions. Read the bill text here.

There’s a lot to unpack in this approach, which is distinct from a 2023 effort from Gillibrand and Lummis designed to address the crypto sector more broadly. This stablecoin bill would:

Allow banks and non-bank trust companies to issue stablecoins through dedicated subsidiaries.
Ban “unbacked, algorithmic” stablecoins.
Introduce capital and one-to-one reserve requirements.
Direct the FDIC to develop a regulatory regime to address the failures of stablecoin firms.
Permit state financial regulators to authorize and supervise stablecoin-issuing trust companies below $10 billion, a figure based on the outstanding value of a firm’s issued coins.
Give the Federal Reserve power to issue enforcement actions unilaterally against stablecoin firms larger than $10 billion but be required to take “joint” action with state authorities below that threshold.

In statements, Gillibrand and Lummis said their bill would preserve the dual banking system by allowing for a mix of both state and federal oversight.

Lummis said the bipartisan bill was “critical to maintaining the U.S. dollar’s dominance” and facilitating financial innovation.

Gillibrand argued the bill ”protects consumers by mandating one-to-one reserves, prohibiting algorithmic stablecoins, and requiring stablecoin issuers to comply with U.S. anti-money laundering and sanctions rules.”

This bill is complicated and weighty, and it will take time for Washington and Wall Street to fully digest. We’ll be following the reaction closely.

Speaking of crypto: One of the industry’s fiercest critics in the Senate has more shots to fire at congressional efforts to better fold crypto into the financial system.

First in Punchbowl News: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told the Treasury Department in a letter Tuesday she would back a push to give financial regulators stronger anti-money laundering authorities over crypto. Warren said such tools “must be adopted into any legislation Congress advances” on stablecoins.

Warren points to a Treasury letter from November 2023 in which the government asked for additional authorities to help crack down on criminal activity in and around the crypto sector, including around crypto miners and validators. 

More from Warren:

“Folding stablecoins deeper into the banking system will supercharge trading in the crypto market, exploding the opportunities for terrorists and other bad actors to exploit those financing channels to both evade sanctions and receive a limitless stream of untraceable income.”

— Brendan Pedersen


Politico Pro: Most marijuana users prefer weed to alcohol, cigarettes

BY: NATALIE FERTIG | 04/17/2024 01:35 PM EDT

Marijuana is more popular than alcohol and cigarettes for roughly three-quarters of cannabis users, according to a new poll.

The Harris Poll found that 77 percent of marijuana users prefer it to cigarettes and 73 percent prefer it to alcohol. That number is even higher among marijuana users who smoke at least once a day: 83 percent and 82 percent, respectively.

Just over 60 percent of respondents said they do not use marijuana products, while 15 percent said they use the drug daily and 25 percent consume it weekly. The most popular method of consumption is smoking — with more than 70 percent of users citing that as their primary mode.

The details: Gen Z — born after 1997 — has the highest percentage of users who prefer marijuana to everything else: 86 percent prefer marijuana to cigarettes and 77 percent prefer it to alcohol. Millennials are less likely to give up their smokes: 73 percent prefer marijuana to cigarettes and 76 percent prefer it to alcohol. Millennials surprisingly had slightly lower preference numbers than Gen X — running contrary to the idea that age and marijuana popularity always go hand in hand. Nearly 80 percent of Gen X respondents preferred marijuana to cigarettes and 77 percent preferred it to alcohol.

Baby boomers were the least likely to prefer marijuana to alcohol: Just 59 percent of boomer marijuana users said they prefer it to alcohol, but 74 percent said they prefer it to cigarettes.

Seventy percent of Americans also believe that marijuana will be widely available in the future, according to the poll. In addition, 68 percent of respondents said they think it will become as commonly used as some prescription medicines within the next five years, and 50 percent said they think it will be legal nationwide in the next five years.

The poll also found that ice cream may be the one thing more popular than marijuana among heavy users. The poll asked what products marijuana users would be willing to give up in order to make or keep marijuana legal. Just over 70 percent of heavy users said they’d give up energy drinks, 68 percent were willing to forego alcohol and 54 percent would pass up social media. But just 49 percent said they’d be willing to give up ice cream, the only product that received less than half the vote.

The nationwide poll was conducted in March and included more than 2,000 adults.