Cannabis News of Note for the Week:

Cannabis Business Times: Delaware Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Protect Financial Entities Serving Cannabis Industry

Politico Pro Cannabis: House Republican policy group opposes cannabis banking bill (paywalled article, full text below)

Punchbowl News AM (3/27): An ambitious Senate agenda — if the GOP will help (newsletter, text of note below)

Marijuana Moment: The United Food and Commercial Workers discussed support for a federal marijuana banking bill in a newsletter

Green Market Report: Cannabis finance experts predict rescheduling, consolidation

Marijuana Moment: DEA Officials Discuss Marijuana Scheduling Timeline, Seeking To ‘Correct Misperceptions’ That Decisions Are Made In A ‘Shroud Of Secrecy’

Marijuana Moment: Congressional Lawmakers Push Attorney General To Issue ‘Overdue’ Marijuana Guidance, Saying Ongoing ‘Legal Limbo’ Is “Unacceptable’

Marijuana Moment: GOP Senators Tell DEA To Reject Marijuana Rescheduling, Arguing It Would Violate International Treaties


Cannabis Reports of Note for the Week:

Whitney Economics Report: Cannabis industry primed for growth despite the self-sabotage

Federal Census Bureau Updates Marijuana Tax Revenue Map, Showing Which States Had Biggest Increases And Decreases Last Quarter

Pew Research Center: Most Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana for Medical, Recreational Use

CPEAR Survey on STATES Act in Missouri, Ohio, and Wyoming



Politico Pro: House Republican policy group opposes cannabis banking bill

The Republican Policy Committee issued a report in February filled with concerns about marijuana policy.

BY: NATALIE FERTIG | 03/26/2024 12:38 PM EDT

The House Republican Policy Committee is imploring Republicans to vote against the cannabis banking bill and legislation that would prohibit federal agencies from refusing to hire someone or denying a security clearance due to cannabis use.

“During the 2020 presidential campaign, Vice President Kamala Harris stated that marijuana brings people joy, and there needs to be more joy in the world,” the report’s introduction reads. “Unless joy is connected to violence, depression, and suicide, Harris is mistaken.”

The policy position comes in a guide to marijuana policy published at the end of February, first reported by Marijuana Moment.

Why it matters: The Republican Policy Committee is a policy advisory group led by Rep. Gary Palmer (Ala.). Each region sends a representative, and current membership represents a wide range of viewpoints, including a handful of prominent pro-legalization lawmakers such as Tom McClintock (Calif.) and Nancy Mace (S.C.).

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Iowa), whose cannabis research bill was discussed in the House VA Committee’s Subcommittee on Health last week, is listed as a member on the group’s website. The group’s membership, however, also still includes Rep. Bill Johnson (Ohio) — who resigned in January of this year.

Not all House Republicans agree with the RPC’s position on cannabis policy. Congressman Dave Joyce (Ohio), a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, pointed out via a spokesperson that “over 100 House Republicans support [SAFE].”

The report raises alarms about the impact of cannabis on developing brains. It points out that cannabis potency has increased dramatically over recent decades, especially with the advent of concentrates and tinctures — which can be over 90 percent THC. It also cites a recent Wall Street Journal article regarding a rise in cases of cannabis use disorder, as well as reports that draw connections between prolonged cannabis use and violent behavior and indicating that cannabis interferes with brain development.

The impact of cannabis on adolescent brains is one of the biggest public health concerns raised by legalization. Yale scientist Deepak D’Souza told POLITICO in 2021 that there is scientific data that suggested exposure to high-potency THC can increase the potential in adolescents for schizophrenia. He said then that cannabis is “neither necessary, nor sufficient” to cause psychosis on its own, but can be a component that interacts with other factors to contribute to psychosis.

D’Souza also said that high-potency products with over 80 and 90 percent THC — often vape cartridges and tinctures — are a “recipe for disaster.”

In addition, a 2023 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that cannabis-related hospitalizations — especially for cannabis-induced psychosis — increased 1.62-fold over seven years in Canada between 2015 and 2021. Cannabis was legalized in Canada in 2018.

The report also links marijuana legalization to higher crimes rates. “Each state that has legalized marijuana has experienced an increase in violence,” it states.

That is not true in every state with legal marijuana, however. Some states — like Illinois — saw decreases in violent crime rates after legalization, while other states like Alaska saw increases that eventually dipped.

The RPC did not respond to two requests for comment. The graph RPC used to draw its conclusion about increases in violence was credited to anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, but SAM’s Executive Vice President Luke Niforatos told POLITICO that their graph was an analysis of just four states. “It is not a comprehensive analysis of all states,” he said.

The specifics: Violent crime in Alaska increased from a rate of 610 incidents per 100,000 people in 2011 to 636 in 2014, per FBI data. Cannabis was legalized in November 2014, and the first dispensaries opened in October 2016. The violent crime rate increased from 805 incidents per 100,000 people in 2016 to 892 two years later. After 2018, however, the rate began to decline each year — reaching 759 in 2022.

In Colorado, violent crime has steadily increased since marijuana sales began on Jan. 1, 2014. There were 308 incidents per 100,000 people in 2014, which (despite a dip in 2019) rose to 493 in 2022 — a 60 percent increase.

Massachusetts, however, saw the opposite trendline. Sales there began in 2018, and that year continued a multi-year decline in the state’s violent crime rate. The rate dipped from 354 incidents in 2017 to 301 in 2021, before bumping up to 321 in 2022.

And in Illinois — where cannabis sales began in early 2020, violent crime increased in the first year of sales (from 415 incidents in 2019 to 426 in 2020), but then reversed course and decreased substantially — to 345 in 2021 and 287 in 2022.



Punchbowl News AM (3/27): An ambitious Senate agenda — if the GOP will help

Federal agencies are funded through September. The must-pass agenda is winnowing down. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to pivot to a flurry of bipartisan legislation he first laid out last summer.

Schumer says he wants to take swings at Big Tech, enact banking reforms and shore up the nation’s railroad safety standards, among other ambitious projects.

Of course, success is far from certain. And it’ll be nothing like the first two years of Joe Biden’s presidency in a Democrat-run Washington. The 117th Congress saw a historically productive Senate craft and pass several landmark bipartisan bills that were signed into law — often with the help of GOP leaders. This time around, with an eye on the Senate majority, Republicans are much less likely to help Democrats deliver results they can tout in November.

So it’s unclear whether much of this agenda can garner 60 votes in the Senate, let alone clear a GOP-run House beset by infighting and dysfunction. In the months since Schumer first laid out those priorities, the House dumped two major cross-party bills on his plate — a tax package and a TikTok bill — that could make for a fascinating pre-election streak of bipartisan legislating.

Political benefits: Another important element of Schumer’s legislative calculus is the fact that some of these bipartisan bills could serve to boost Democratic incumbents in tough races this year. Looking at you, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)!

And, as is the case with pretty much anything in the Senate, the process will matter a whole lot. It takes a week to pass anything without unanimous consent, and Republicans could put up a fight on amendments. And leadership is already urging Republicans to stick together in opposition to things like the tax bill. That doesn’t mean Schumer won’t hold “show” votes, of course.

But while it’s rare to secure standalone votes — Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) has been trying to do this with his credit card competition bill — it’s not impossible. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) just did it with a bill to reauthorize a compensation program for radiation victims, which passed the Senate easily.

Alternatively, some proposals could be attached to another legislative vehicle. Both chambers will need to address the April and May deadlines for FISA and the FAA reauthorization, respectively, at some point.

In addition, Congress is going to have to pass a bill to fund the rebuilding of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. We noted in the Midday edition Tuesday that, in 2007, Washington moved to approve $250 million to rebuild the I-35W bridge in Minnesota just days after its collapse. This will be something the Hill has to reckon with.

Let’s get into it.

Wyden-Smith tax bill: This measure passed the House in a massive bipartisan vote but is on the verge of collapse in the Senate. Republican leaders are vowing to stop the effort in its tracks, even privately encouraging members to filibuster it if Schumer brings it up.

Some Republicans believe they’ll have a better shot at addressing tax policy next year when the Trump tax cuts expire and they could have the Senate majority. Others have suggested quite openly that it wouldn’t make sense to give Biden a win this close to the election.

There is modest GOP support in the Senate, especially with the expansion of the child tax credit. This is something that could also help in-cycle Democrats. But if the bill lacks the requisite 60 votes, it’s hard to see Schumer holding a show vote on this one.

Rail safety: Legislation boosting railway safety standards after the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment cleared the Senate Commerce Committee nearly a year ago.

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) has been working to secure enough GOP support for the bill, but Republican leaders oppose it. Vance and his allies believe the votes are there. But whether this could pass the House is an open question.

Kids’ online safety: Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have been spearheading this effort, which has more than 60 co-sponsors. Schumer has said he wants to take action on it.

But cracking down on big tech hasn’t always been Congress’ strong suit. Speaking of…

TikTok: Like the tax bill, legislation forcing TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company passed the House with a big bipartisan margin.

To be sure, the TikTok bill isn’t in as much danger as the tax bill is in the Senate. But as we’ve reported, there are differences of opinion among top Democrats that could ultimately prevent it from moving forward in its current form. Plus, the jury’s still out on whether this effort carries any political benefits.

Banking Committee action: The Senate Banking Committee has cleared two bipartisan bills that could potentially see floor action. The first is the SAFER Banking Act, which is intended to help state-legal cannabis businesses access the banking system. It cleared the panel on a 14-9 vote.

The other is the RECOUP Act, which deals with bank executive clawbacks and other accountability standards. This passed the committee on a 21-2 vote.

— Andrew Desiderio