The Blunt Truth

Week in Weed: July 22, 2016

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

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

You would have been hard pressed, just a few years ago, to find investments outside of family-office groups. Then Washington and Colorado legalized.


In a move that may encourage Pennsylvania doctors to get certified to recommend medical marijuana, the state’s Department of Health has established a physician working group to help implement its new MMJ law.


About half of registered Massachusetts voters oppose a ballot proposal to legalize marijuana for people 21 years of age and older, according to a new poll.


And finally, because we’d be “Crazy” not to include this link:

Willie Nelson’s much-hyped marijuana brand Willie’s Reserve will debut in Washington state pot shops this month and in Colorado marijuana stores in August, Nelson’s team told The Cannabist exclusively.

SECOND-HAND SMOKE: How Colorado’s Neighbors Are Fighting Amendment 64

Posted in General

Not everybody has been high on life since Colorado passed Amendment 64 on November 6, 2012, which legalized the sale and distribution of marijuana in Colorado.  Since the passage of Amendment 64, several states have voiced their concerns regarding the inherent conflict between states legalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana, and the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), which lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug, and forbids its sale or use.  On March 21, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) exercised its discretion to reject a challenge by Oklahoma and Nebraska to Amendment 64, and other marijuana legalization efforts, alleging that Amendment 64 is preempted by federal law.  In other words, Oklahoma and Nebraska, argued that the Colorado law violates the CSA, and that SCOTUS should adjudicate this case based on “original jurisdiction,” which empowers SCOTUS to hear disputes between the states without first being tried at the District Court and Court of Appeals.

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The Week in Weed: July 15, 2015

Posted in General, Week in Weed

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

The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate will hold an unexpected – and perhaps first-ever – hearing on the potential medical benefits and risks of marijuana use Wednesday, July 13.

New research shows a dramatic drop in painkiller prescriptions after medical marijuana laws are passed.

Just days after the Democratic Party endorsed the rescheduling of cannabis and a “reasoned pathway to future legalization” of marijuana, delegates with the Republican Party voted against a more conservative platform that would have endorsed medical marijuana.

After criticism from the executive director of Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Commission, the chairman of the group announced that the first marijuana business license winners in the cultivator and processor categories could be chosen as soon as August 5.

And, just for fun:

New Internet stars: Attorneys Will Hutson and Chris Harris’ YouTube video has gone viral after it’s picked up on radio stations across the country.

Anything we missed?  Let us know in the comments.

A One-Two Punch: Jabs v. IDPH and SB 10 Passage Changing the Direction of Medical Marijuana in Illinois

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

Last week, Illinois courts and lawmakers changed the  course of the administration of medical marijuana for state residents with debilitating conditions and diseases. First, on June 28, 2016, Associate Judge Neil H. Cohen of Cook County Chancery Court ruled that the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (“IDPH”), Director Neil D. Shah, illegally denied a Petition to include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) as a debilitating medical condition within the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (“Program”). Plaintiff Daniel Paul Jabs, a veteran of the Iraq War, suffered from PTSD and had symptoms of “‘panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive memories, hyper-sensitivity to light and noise, over reactive startle responses,’ as well as isolation, mood fluctuations, anxiety and insomnia.” After providing the requisite documents at a public hearing before an Advisory Board, the board members unanimously voted to add PTSD and ten other medical conditions as authorized debilitating medical conditions under the Program.

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The Week in Weed: July 8, 2016

Posted in Colorado Law, Legalization Efforts, Recreational Marijuana, Week in Weed

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legal marijuana.

It’s not just for Microsoft anymore!  Is global technology giant Google the latest major U.S. corporation to kick the tires of the marijuana industry? It could be. Signs suggest the Mountain View, California-based company is exploring the opportunity to work with cannabis businesses.

Under proposal, bars and other businesses could create “consumption areas” — but only with neighborhood backing.

The state’s highest court has cleared the way for a question that calls for legalizing recreational marijuana in Massachusetts to appear on the November ballot.

And one more item, just for grins:

The Jamaican government is considering installing kiosks at airport arrival halls and seaports for tourists to get a license to buy and consume up to two ounces of marijuana during their stay on the island.

Anything we missed?  Let us know in the comments.

Banking Marijuana Related Business: A Postscript

Posted in General

Two weeks ago we wrote about the current state of banking marijuana related businesses (MRBs).  In that article we quoted an executive of Fourth Corner Bank as saying “[i]n 2016, $1.2 billion in cash will be transacted by the cannabis industry in Colorado.  That’s all in $20 bills.  At some point somebody will die. Then we will be allowed to bank.”   We were wrong, and tragically, somebody has died.

On the day of our post, a number of publications reported that the Rules Committee of the United States House of Representatives blocked a vote on an amendment to a 2017 appropriations bill that would have prevented federal regulators from imposing penalties on banks and other financial institutions that took on MRBs as customers.  A similar amendment cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 16-14.  Two of these stories may be found here and here.

The House rejection of the amendment followed a shooting at an Aurora, Colorado dispensary in which a security guard was killed in an armed robbery.  Representative Ed Perlmutter, one of the sponsors of the bill, was quoted as saying, “I’m appalled at House Republican leadership for denying the opportunity for a vote on the marijuana banking amendment which gets cash off the streets and prevents future crime in our communities. How many more armed robberies must we witness and security guards’ lives lost before we take action?”

Perhaps the House Republican leadership believes that, like climate change, if you ignore the dangers of a multi-billion dollar industry operating in all cash, the problem doesn’t exist.

The Week in Weed: July 1, 2016

Posted in California Law, Colorado Law, Federal - State Law Conflict, Legalization Efforts, Medical Marijuana, Recreational Marijuana, Week in Weed

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

Nebraska and Oklahoma may not have had their day in (Supreme) Court, but they are undeterred in their fight against Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

A judge in Illinois’ Cook County ordered the state’s medical marijuana program to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for MMJ within 30 days.

An initiative has officially obtained enough signatures to be placed on November’s ballot. It would allow adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants for recreational use.

Authorities say they have arrested a man on suspicion of driving while high on pot after he crashed into a Happy Valley marijuana dispensary.

That last item was more for fun than real news value, but it’s Friday, it’s a long weekend, and how could we resist?

Anything we missed?  Let us know in the comments.

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.