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

DENVER (AP) — Denver is starting work Wednesday on becoming the first city in the nation to allow marijuana clubs and public pot use in places such as coffee shops, yoga studios and art galleries.

Cannabis users may cheer this news, but it heralds the start of an enduring headache for states.

And, since it’s Inauguration Day, of course we’re including an article about the incoming adminstration.

By John Schroyer – Steph Sherer has a good read on the pulse of cannabis politics, having spent years in Washington DC lobbying on behalf of medical marijuana patients and fighting for national MJ reform as executive director of Americans for Safe Access.

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On January 10, 2017, Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions began confirmation hearings with the Senate Judiciary Committee for his potential role as Attorney General in the upcoming Trump administration.   During these hearings he was asked questions that shed light on possible differences between the Trump administration Department of Justice’s stance on marijuana as compared to the Obama administration.

In response to a question about federalism as it relates to marijuana laws from Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, Sessions stated:

“One obvious concern is that Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state an illegal act. If that is not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change it. It’s not the attorney general’s job to decide which laws to enforce. We should enforce the laws as effectively as we are able.”

Additionally, in response to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, Sessions said he “won’t commit to never enforcing federal law.”

These statements indicate, at the least, a change in ideas about enforcement of marijuana laws.  Although there has been no legal action at the federal level to legalize marijuana, there have been several memoranda urging U.S. Attorneys to avoid prosecuting marijuana-related crimes.  Additionally, in 2014, Congress passed a spending bill that prohibited the Department of Justice from using federal funding to prosecute marijuana activity that is legal under state law.

In spite of the sterner tone that Sessions took during the hearings, leading voices in the legalization community do not see cause for alarm.  In response to Sessions’ comments during the hearing, the Marijuana Policy Project issued a statement in which its Director of Federal Policies, Robert Capecchi, said that MPP is “cautiously optimistic” about the incoming administration’s stance on marijuana. The director also said: “ It is notable that Sen. Sessions chose not to commit to vigorously enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have reformed their marijuana laws. He also recognized that enforcing federal marijuana laws would be dependent upon the availability of resources, the scarcity of which poses a problem. He was given the opportunity to take an extreme prohibitionist approach and he passed on it.”

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

Lawmakers in Maine have introduced a bill that would postpone the start of the state’s recreational marijuana industry. The proposal, introduced by leaders of the state House and Senate, would extend the timeline for officials to develop and and implement regulations on rec marijuana businesses by three months.

Trump’s Attorney General pick has been opposed to marijuana legalization in the past.

Massachusetts cannabis cultivators, recently legitimized by the legalization of marijuana, could soon find themselves having to cut back on the size of their home grow operations.

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As we enter a new year, and approach the one year anniversary of New York’s Medical Marijuana Program,  we are given an opportunity to look back and reflect on the performance of the program, and what lies ahead.

In some ways, the program has been vastly successful.  As of January 3, 2016, 807 practitioners have registered for the Medical Marijuana Program, and 12,067 patients have been certified by their practitioners.

However, the Medical Marijuana Program has also been criticized for its limited access, high prices, and the regulatory hurdles which have discouraged doctors and patients from participating, and have hurt medical marijuana companies trying to grow their business.  For instance, some patients have to travel upwards of three hours to receive the required medication.  Further, many companies have invested in large grow spaces, but due to the restrictive nature of the law, demand has remained low.  Consequently, these companies are using only a marginal fraction of their overall capacity for growth.

Over the past month, the legislature has made several changes to the Medical Marijuana Program including:

Outlook

From the changes discussed above, it seems that the legislature is placing a priority on the interests of patients over the concerns of the existing registered dispensaries. Accordingly, the number of patients and demand for medical marijuana will likely increase over the next year.

However, since the landscape of the law will continue to develop and change, employers and businesses will need to stay on top of any new legal developments and contact their attorneys with any arising issues.

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

Now that more than 30 states and U.S. territories permit the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, the fledgling industry is looking for legal help. But the question remains whether a lawyer advising a client on the cultivation, sale or use of pot, under state law, runs contrary to professional conduct rules because marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Feeling a little bit anxious about attending Inauguration Day on January 20? Well, exhale: Your prayers may have been answered.

Should a Donald Trump administration try to interfere with states that have legalized recreational cannabis, California will be ready.

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

Medical marijuana could receive a much-needed reclassification under international law before 2018.

The process for licensing retail marijuana shops would be delayed by six months under legislation that surfaced first on Wednesday in the Senate before clearing both branches, the result of which could push the legal sale of marijuana, authorized by a successful ballot campaign this year, well into 2018.

The clock is ticking for Oregon medical cannabis dispensaries that want to continue selling to recreational customers. On Jan. 1, all storefronts serving the adult-use market must have a recreational marijuana business license from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

This is our last Week in Weed for 2016.  It’s been an exciting year, and we thank you for spending part of your Fridays with us.  We wish all of our readers a Happy 2017, and look forward to keeping you informed throughout the coming year.

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

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania officials said Wednesday that they will begin accepting applications early next year for medical marijuana growers and dispensaries, with a target date of mid-2018 for legal sales to begin in the state.

How can banks in Oregon improve their reputation? Serve cannabis clients. That’s the finding of a survey by Portland-based LT Public Relations and DHM Research that suggests financial institutions could better their public standing by providing financial services to marijuana businesses.

On election day, voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada decided to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.  What does this mean for employers?

Okay, we’re going to toot our own horn here, among those interviewed for this article is our editor, Stan Jutkowitz.

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

It was 1911. The New England Watch and Ward Society (née the New England Society for the Suppression of Vice) was battling against drugs and other “special evils.” And in April of that year, the group’s leaders successfully petitioned the Massachusetts Legislature to outlaw possession of several “hypnotic drugs,” including cannabis.

One hundred five years, seven months, and 16 days later — Thursday — marijuana became legal again in Massachusetts.

Changing marijuana laws aren’t necessarily making weed more welcome in the workplace. For now, many employers appear to be sticking with their drug testing and personal conduct policies, even in states where recreational marijuana use is now permitted.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has introduced a new rule on how it tracks marijuana extracts that is causing concern in the marijuana industry. But should it?

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In April, we wrote about Med-X, Inc. (“Med-X”).  Med-X was the first cannabis company to launch an equity crowdfunding campaign, and as of September 16, 2016, the company has found itself in regulatory hot water for failing to adhere to securities law requirements.

Continue Reading Crowdfunding in the Cannabis Industry – Update – SEC Temporarily Suspends Med-Ex Crowdfunding Offering

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

The issue of marijuana reform, even when it comes to those temporary amendments used to protect the legal cannabis industry from federal drug enforcers, is not expected to receive any votes next year in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a report from Marijuana.com.

A Montana judge Wednesday ruled that the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries should be reopened in accordance with a recently approved ballot initiative, paving the way for thousands of potential patients to receive MMJ again.

Gambling regulators in Massachusetts are looking into the possible impact of legalized marijuana on the state’s emerging casino industry.

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