The Blunt Truth

The Week in Weed: December 2, 2016

Posted in Week in Weed

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

A field sobriety test is used when a motorist is suspected of reckless driving, and a breathalyzer is used to gauge the level of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream. But there’s nothing similar to a breathalyzer for testing whether someone is driving while under the influence of marijuana.

DENVER — Weed is winning in the polls, with a solid majority of Americans saying marijuana should be legal. But does that mean the federal government will let dozens of state pot experiments play out? Not by a long shot.

A formal recount of Maine’s election results on recreational cannabis legalization is set to begin Monday and is expected to take four to six weeks and cost the state up to half a million dollars.

Racial Diversity in the Spotlight for Cannabis Industry

Posted in General

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission announced yesterday that it will hire a diversity consultant to examine what steps it could take to improve racial diversity in the state’s medical marijuana industry.  The announcement comes after a losing applicant for a medical marijuana license filed a lawsuit against the Commission alleging that its selection process for coveted marijuana growing licenses ignored a statutory mandate to consider the racial diversity of the applicants. The complaint alleges that the Commission was “derelict in its legislatively mandated duty to ‘actively seek to achieve racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity when licensing medical cannabis growers.’”

Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus has also criticized the lack of racial diversity in the Commission’s licensing process.  Of the 30 business that were cleared for growing and process licenses in 2016, minorities held leadership positions in only two.

Concerns about racial diversity in the cannabis industry are being echoed throughout the U.S. as more states legalize marijuana. Diversity advocates cite costly licensing fees and prohibitions on licensing approval for individuals with criminal records as two ways that state regulatory requirements disproportionately exclude people of color from marijuana-focused businesses.

That people of color should disproportionately benefit from marijuana legalization has been cited by diversity advocates as emblematic of how, across the country, minorities (particularly men) bear the disproportionate brunt of enforcement efforts when marijuana is criminalized. According to a study conducted by The Drug Policy Alliance, 70-80% of arrests for cannabis possession happen in communities of color, while it is estimated that under 1% of the growing legalized market is owned and/or operated by individuals of color.

Groups focused on diversity and inclusion in the cannabis industry are hoping to improve that ownership statistic.  Last year, minority cannabis industry leaders last year created the Minority Cannabis Business Association, the first non-profit organization created to serve the specific needs of minority cannabis entrepreneurs, workers, and patients/ consumers.

States are also taking steps to improve the sector’s diversity.  Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law, for example, includes a diversity component. State officials are tasked with creating outreach programs to encourage persons of color to apply for medical marijuana licenses. It also calls on the Pennsylvania Department of Health to issue a report in 2018 evaluating the diversity in the state’s cannabis industry.

The Week in Weed: November 25, 2016

Posted in Week in Weed

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

Opponents of a state ruling that would prevent bars and many restaurants in Denver from offering on-site marijuana consumption said the ruling would overturn a law approved by voters and force people to sneak around while they use pot and consume alcohol.

The signatures have been certified on petitions calling for the recounts, the Secretary of State’s Office says.

Applicants for Maryland’s medical marijuana dispensary licenses will soon know whether they won or lost. The Maryland Cannabis Commission has announced that winners of preliminary licenses will be chosen Nov. 28 but won’t be revealed to the public until December 9.

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

 

Bad JuJu: No Federal Trademark Protection for Marks Covering Marijuana Vaporizers

Posted in Intellectual Property

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB” or the “Board”) recently affirmed two refusals to register trademarks:

1) an intent-to-use trademark application for POWERED BY JUJU for “smokeless cannabis vaporizing apparatus, namely, oral vaporizers for smoking purposes; vaporizing cannabis delivery device, namely, oral vaporizers for smoking purposes”, initially refused based on a lack of bona fide intent to use the mark in lawful commerce; and

2) a use-based application for JUJU JOINTS for “smokeless marijuana or cannabis vaporizer apparatus, namely, oral vaporizers for smokers; vaporizing marijuana or cannabis delivery device, namely, oral vaporizers for smoking purposes”, initially refused based on lack of lawful use in U.S. commerce. Continue Reading

The Week in Weed: November 18

Posted in Week in Weed

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

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — With legal marijuana sales underway in Alaska, growers will soon be submitting their first tax payments to the state.

The Colorado measure will permit private businesses to allow marijuana use by adults in designated areas with certain exceptions.

In what could be the start of a string of post-2016-election ripple effects, a pair of cannabis legalization bills have been introduced in the Texas Legislature – one to allow medical marijuana and another to legalize adult use.

November Surprise? NYSE Approves Industrial Innovative Properties’ Listing Application

Posted in Investment/Venture Capital

As we reported last month, on October 17, 2016, Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc., a real estate investment trust (colloquially, a REIT) specializing in the acquisition, ownership and management of industrial properties leased to experienced, state-licensed operators of regulated medical use cannabis facilities, filed a registration statement with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission under which the company is offering up to 8.75 million shares at an initial public offering price of $20 per share.  The Company simultaneously filed to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Continue Reading

Management Alert: Recreational Marijuana Use Becomes Legal in Massachusetts: Questions and Answers for Dazed and Confused Employers

Posted in Legalization Efforts

Now that Massachusetts has voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, employers that want to maintain drug-free workplaces, the new marijuana law raises a number of questions regarding employer rights and obligations.  In this client alert, we identify a number of issues facing employers in the wake of this new law and offer our initial reactions and insights.

To view the full alert, please click on the link below:

http://www.seyfarth.com/publications/MA111416-LE

Florida Voters Have Spoken: Marijuana Accessible to Individuals with Debilitating Illnesses

Posted in Medical Marijuana

Tuesday turned out to be a big night for medical marijuana supporters in Florida – with voters overwhelmingly casting their votes in favor of a full-scale medical marijuana program. Florida’s Amendment 2 has the potential to be one of the most permissive medical marijuana rules in the country. Amendment 2 provides that patients with illnesses such as cancer, HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy would be eligible to access medical marijuana. In addition to the prescribed illness, the measure also allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana for “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” While the measure requires that the illness be severe – the wording seems to give physicians a lot of leeway in determining which conditions meet the “severe” criteria.

Although the law is set to go into effect in January of 2017, Florida lawmakers must still draft laws regarding how the law will be implemented and regulated, which is set to begin in March 2017. Further, patients themselves must have a 90-day relationship with physicians licensed by the state before obtaining the cannabis.

The Week in Weed: November 11, 2016

Posted in Week in Weed

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.  And what a week it’s been!

The cannabis industry scored a landslide victory Tuesday as four states legalized recreational marijuana and another three approved medical use, cementing the 2016 election’s place in the history books.

As many like to say, elections have consequences. And this new Washington Post article highlights one really interesting and surprisingly quick consequence of all the marijuana election results.

Four more states legalize recreational marijuana, but it could be moot if newly elected President Trump rolls back the Cole Memorandum, or if Trump appoints either Chris Christie or Rudy Giuliani as attorney general.

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

California High on Proposition 64’s Recreational Marijuana Law

Posted in California Law, Legalization Efforts

Golden State voters trail-blazed the way for the legalized use and sale of marijuana on November 8, 2016. The California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, known as Proposition 64, was welcomed with open arms (and maybe a little cotton mouth) by the nation’s largest economy with a vote of 56% in favor of the law. Continue Reading