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Marijuana News Roundup: Bill to Ease Pot Restrictions Introduced in US Senate

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Friday introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would remove the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and ease restrictions on cannabis research.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act was first introduced in 2015, but never got a hearing.

The bill’s provisions include:

  • Amending the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to prohibit federal interference with state laws governing medical marijuana
  • Transferring marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug under the CSA
  • Excluding cannabidiol from the definition of marijuana
  • Providing access to banking services for legal marijuana businesses

Of the bill’s 19 co-sponsors, 3 are Republicans, 15 are Democrats, and one is an Independent. Senator Booker was the original sponsor of the bill in 2015.

Bitcoin is Helping the Pot Business Get Over Its Banking Problem

Cannabis companies are turning to the world’s most popular digital currency in an effort to get rid of all that cash.

The inability to access traditional financial institutions is one of the marijuana industry’s biggest impediments. Legal cannabis was a $6 billion industry last year and is expected to grow to $50 billion by 2026, according to Cowen & Co. But because pot is illegal under federal law, big banks and credit-card companies steer clear. That’s forced most merchants to accept cash only, a logistical headache and constant security threat.

Enter bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that consists of digital coins “mined” by computers solving increasingly complex math problems. At least two financial-technology startups, POSaBIT and SinglePoint, Inc., use the cryptocurrency as an intermediate step that lets pot connoisseurs use their bank-issued credit cards to buy weed.

Read more at Bloomberg.