The Blunt Truth

The Week in Weed: June 24, 2016

Posted in Colorado Law, Investment/Venture Capital, States That Have Legalized Entirely, Week in Weed

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at the world of legalized marijuana.

Microsoft is welcoming marijuana compliance company Kind Financial onto its Azure Government cloud platform, marking a legitimizing first for the legal cannabis business while positioning the technology giant at the vanguard of a potentially lucrative new industry.

Colorado and Washington may have jumped ahead in the race to become North America’s marijuana kings, but Canada is now positioned to take a lead in the booming multibillion-dollar industry.

Denver voters may consider a ballot measure this fall to make the city the most populous place in the nation to expressly allow pot clubs.

Although Sean Parker’s controversial marijuana ballot measure is considered by some to be the great green hope in terms of bringing prohibition to an end in California later this year, many advocates for the initiative, including Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, are concerned that the cavalier attitude among the public could sabotage legalization efforts for many years to come.

Something we missed that everyone needs to know?  Give us a shout in the comments.

Banking Marijuana Related Business: An Update

Posted in Banking, Federal - State Law Conflict, General

Lack of access to the banking system remains one of the biggest problems for the cannabis industry.  Despite tremendous growth in the past few years and even more aggressive growth expected in the near future,  it is still difficult for cannabis businesses, what bankers like to call marijuana related businesses (MRB), to establish a banking relationship. As more and more states legalize the use of marijuana, has there been any progress?

First, a little history.  Banks are prohibited from banking MRBs under federal law and risk prosecution for money laundering and aiding drug trafficking.  In February 2014, following the issuance of the Cole Memorandum by the Justice Department, the Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Department of Justice issued concurrent guidance to clarify how financial institutions could serve MRBs consistent with their obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act.  The FinCEN  guidelines state that in determining whether to serve an MRB, a financial institution should conduct due diligence including: determining whether the MRB is properly licensed, reviewing the license application, requesting from state authorities available information about the business, understanding the products and customers of the business, monitoring the business activities, remaining alert for suspicious business activities, and conducting periodic reviews of the business.  A financial institution also should consider whether an MRB implicates one of the priorities of the Cole Memorandum.  Finally, if a financial institution does decide to service an MRB, it would be required to file a Suspicious Activity Report.

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The Week in Weed: June 17, 2016

Posted in General, Legalization Efforts, Medical Marijuana, Week in Weed

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at the world of legalized marijuana.  The big news is that Ohio has now officially legalized medical marijuana (medijuana, as we like to call it).  See TBT’s post on that here.  But that’s not the only thing that’s been going on.

They doubled in Washington state.

Two campaigns to legalize medical cannabis in Arkansas could wind up killing each other in November if both of them somehow qualify for the ballot.
In today’s digital age, you can summon a pizza via text message or organize a meet-up in minutes via social media. But for a long time, the marijuana industry wasn’t on that technology bandwagon.
Anything we missed that everyone needs to know?  Fill us in through the comment section.

No Smoke or Fire in New Ohio Medical Marijuana Act

Posted in Federal - State Law Conflict, Medical Marijuana, Use in the Workplace

Ohio Governor Kasich’s presidential campaign went up in smoke.  So did his opposition to marijuana legalization in the medical context when he recently signed into law Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Act (“OMMA”).  He went from unartfully quibbling with Stephen Colbert about marijuana’s “problem” despite seemingly not being harmed by his own admitted usee to making Ohio the 26th state to enact medical-marijuana legislation.  (To read more about the medical marijuana laws in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, please see our articles here and here).  But there is no smoke or fire in OMMA, both literally in the sense that smoking remains a banned form of consumption, and metaphorically for employers who wish to continue to treat marijuana as a banned substance in the workplace.

OMMA goes into effect in early September.  Under the law, individuals diagnosed with a “qualifying medical condition,” who have registered with the State Board of Pharmacy are permitted to use certain forms of medical marijuana for medicinal purposes.  As mentioned above, do not expect Harold and Kumar to have smoke billowing from their car at a White Castle drive-thru any time soon though, as OMMA explicitly prohibits smoking or other combustion of pot.  Rather, patients are only permitted to use oils, tinctures, plant materials, edibles, patches, or any other form approved by the State Board of Pharmacy, including vaporization. Continue Reading

The Week in Weed: June 10, 2016

Posted in Investment/Venture Capital, Medical Marijuana, States That Have Legalized Medical Marijuana, Week in Weed

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your weekly look at all things legalized marijuana.

 

The cannabis industry is becoming increasingly attractive to investors, who are pumping more money than ever into marijuana companies.  One indication of the increased activity: In 2015, cannabis companies secured more than $215 million in venture capital, according to data from the investment research firm CB Insights.

 

In a sign of marijuana’s growing normalization in Canada, two major life insurance companies have decided to treat cannabis users as non-smokers, reversing a long-standing policy and offering many of them far cheaper premiums.

 

A bill authorizing physicians to prescribe marijuana derivatives to treat a host of health conditions was signed into law this afternoon by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

 

Something we missed that everyone needs to read?  Let us know in the comments.

The Week in Weed: June 3, 2016

Posted in General, Legalization Efforts, Medical Marijuana, States That Have Legalized Medical Marijuana, Week in Weed

Welcome back to The Week in Weed; here’s your Friday update on all things cannabis.

Long-term marijuana use is not associated with a raft of physical health problems, according to a new study, with one surprising exception: gum disease.

Ohio appears poised to become the newest state to approve a medical marijuana program, which could create one of the largest MMJ industries in the nation with patient numbers in the hundreds of thousands and annual sales in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The federal government just softened its stance on a very specific use of medical marijuana.

Something we missed that everyone needs to know?  Give us a shout in the comments.

Election 2016: Where do the Candidates Stand on Marijuana?

Posted in Federal - State Law Conflict, General, Medical Marijuana, Recreational Marijuana

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you know that the U.S. is engaged in picking a new President.  Although issues such as immigration, income inequality, foreign policy and religious freedom have dominated the headlines, all the candidates are on record regarding marijuana: its medical uses, whether it should be rescheduled, how the federal-state legal discrepancies should be handled.  See below a round-up of the candidates statements (note: candidates are listed in alphabetical order):

Hillary Clinton (from her website, https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/criminal-justice-reform/)

  • Focus federal enforcement resources on violent crime, not simple marijuana possession. Marijuana arrests, including for simple possession, account for a huge number of drug arrests. Further, significant racial disparities exist in marijuana enforcement, with black men significantly more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts, even though usage rates are similar. Hillary believes we need an approach to marijuana that includes:
    • Allowing states that have enacted marijuana laws to act as laboratories of democracy, as long as they adhere to certain federal priorities such as not selling to minors, preventing intoxicated driving, and keeping organized crime out of the industry.
    • Rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. Hillary supports medical marijuana and would reschedule marijuana to advance research into its health benefits.

Bernie Sanders (from his website, https://berniesanders.com/issues/racial-justice/)

  • We need to turn back from the failed “War on Drugs” and eliminate mandatory minimums which result in sentencing disparities between black and white people.
  • We need to take marijuana off the federal government’s list of outlawed drugs.
  • We need to allow people in states which legalize marijuana to be able to fully participate in the banking system and not be subject to federal prosecution for using pot.

Donald Trump (Marijuana is not discussed on his campaign website, but he has made public statements on the topic.)

It will be interesting to see how the issue might play into the election going forward.  If it gets any discussion time at the nominating conventions or in the debates, we’ll let you know!

 

The Week in Weed: May 27, 2016

Posted in General, Investment/Venture Capital, Medical Marijuana, States That Have Legalized Medical Marijuana, Week in Weed

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your weekly source for news about legalized marijuana.

He’s a medical pot advocate with arthritis.  He’s also the first Congressman to admit to marijuana use while in office.

 

A medical marijuana legalization bill has been sent to Ohio Governor John Kasich in an effort by state lawmakers to offset support for a proposed fall ballot measure.  Gov. Kasich has not indicated whether he will sign the legislation or not.

 

Public cannabis-based companies seeking to list on a national exchange suffered a setback this week when Nasdaq rejected a listing request by MassRoots, fearing it would “aid in the use and dealing of an illegal substance.”

 

It’s not that the Teamsters are opposed to legalizing marijuana use, but they are concerned about how the transportation and distribution of the drug would be managed under the proposal that goes to the state’s voters in November.

 

Anything we missed?  Let us know in the comments.

The “Key-Stoned State”: Employer’s Guide to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Law

Posted in General, Medical Marijuana, States That Have Legalized Medical Marijuana

Can a bistro in Pottsville, Pa. fire employees for using medical cannabis?  Not anymore.  On Tuesday, May 17, 2016, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act (SB-3) (“MMA”) went into effect, following Governor Tom Wolf’s signature last month (as previously reported here).  Pennsylvania joins 24 other states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, on the Pineapple Express.  Along the way, employers will learn their ability to discipline employees for consuming medical marijuana on the job, for showing up to work under the influence of medical marijuana, and other unintended consequences that will bud from the law. Continue Reading

The Week in Weed: May 20, 2016

Posted in California Law, General, Medical Marijuana, States That Have Legalized Medical Marijuana, Week in Weed

Hello all and welcome back to The Week in Weed, your go-to source for news in the world of legalized marijuana.

This new ordinance is a bit of a head-scratcher.  “A marijuana conviction often can disqualify you from receiving a cannabis business license, but in Oakland it can give you an advantage over applicants with clean records.”  Under this legislation, half of all licenses to run medical marijuana businesses must go to persons with convictions for cannabis-related offenses or who live in one of six neighborhoods targeted by the Oakland Police Department’s war on drugs.  The stated purpose is to increase diversity in the marijuana industry, but critics of the bill note that “most of the six police beats included in the bill lie in the city council district of the councilor who sponsored the legislation.”

 

The Southeast is an area of the country where legalized marijuana has not made much of an inroad.  This may be about to change as Louisiana takes another step towards legalizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes.  The personal stories of those urging passage of the measure are believed to have swayed legislators over the arguments of opponents that legalizing medical marijuana is a step on the slippery slope to legalizing for recreational use.

 

Are you ready for some (medical marijuana in) football?  Eugene Morris, who plays for the Baltimore Ravens, is advocating the use of cannabis in lieu of opioids to treat pain resulting from the rough and tumble inherent in the sport.

 

Anything we missed?  Let us know in the comments section.