Seyfarth Synopsis: Marijuana businesses must properly label their products if they contain chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive health problems.  Failure to do so will result in a civil penalty or civil lawsuit.

Entrepreneurial Plaintiff’s attorneys have now set their sites on marijuana businesses.  Since January 1, 2017, Plaintiff’s firms have issued approximately 800 violation notice letters to marijuana businesses alleging that producers of cannabis infused edibles and vape cartridge manufacturers failed to warn consumers about specific fungicides and pesticides associated with their products.

California’s Proposition 65, or the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires cannabis business owners to provide customers with warning of the chemicals contained in their products which can cause cancer, birth defects, and other health problems.  Among the substances “known to the state of California” to cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems are marijuana smoke itself, and the chemicals myclobutanil (also a fungicide), carbaryl, and malathion, commonly-used pesticides. Continue Reading Beware: Marijuana Businesses Targeted With Product Labeling Violation Letters

While Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to put the marijuana industry on edge with his recent efforts to clamp down on the “hands off” policies of the Obama-era Department of Justice, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has introduced an ambitious piece of legislation that would change the landscape of how marijuana is addressed at the federal level.

The Marijuana Justice Act proposed by Senator Booker would remove marijuana from its current classification as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).  Schedule I drugs are the most serious category of illegal substances – which along with drugs such as heroin, LSD, and MDMA – have the highest potential for abuse and purportedly have no currently accepted medical use.  Meanwhile, drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamines, and opiods all fall under the Schedule 2 classification and are considered less dangerous under the CSA.

Unlike prior attempts to legalize marijuana and change its classification under the CSA, such as those from Senator Bernie Sanders, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA), the Marijuana Justice Act appears to be rooted in social justice and seeks to “retroactively expunge people who have been convicted of use and possession of marijuana,” “[create] incentive[s] for states to change their laws, which will stop them from enforcing the law in an unjust manner,” and “[give] communities devastated by marijuana laws [the ability] to apply for reinvestment funds, to help pay for community centers, public libraries, youth centers, and other infrastructure and social needs.”

Notably, the law would withhold federal funds for law enforcement and prison construction for states that have a disproportionate percentage of minority and low-income individuals arrested for marijuana-related offenses and would create a reinvestment fund for communities most affected by the war on drugs, with grants in areas such as job training, expenses related to the expungement of convictions, public libraries and health education programs.

Whether rooted in progressivism or simply political ambitions for 2020, Senator Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act (which has yet to have a co-sponsor) will face an uphill battle in Congress, despite public support for legalization being at an all-time high.  Indeed, notwithstanding its populist appeal, this legislation would leave unanswered a whole host of questions, such as whether the U.S. government would play any role in the regulation of marijuana at the federal level or would leave regulation of marijuana entirely up to the states?  What about states which do not yet have their own regulatory framework?   What type of marijuana convictions would qualify for expungement?

It is unlikely that these questions will ultimately be answered with the current legislation, but the Marijuana Justice Act could open up further debate about whether marijuana should be declassified as a Schedule I drug under the CSA, which would potentially open doors to medical marijuana research and banking services for those in the marijuana industry.

On May 23, 2017, in Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Co., a Rhode Island Superior Court issued a unique decision regarding employer obligations to medical marijuana users.  The Judge who penned the decision began his analysis by quoting a 1967 lyric from The Beatles’ song “With A Little Help From My Friends”: “I get high with a little help from my friends.”  In the 32-page opinion following this witty opening, the Court held that an employer’s refusal to hire an individual based on her medical marijuana use violated Rhode Island’s medical marijuana statute, and the employer’s conduct may have amounted to disability discrimination under the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act (“RICRA”).  Continue Reading Refusal to Hire Medical Pot Users Just Got Riskier–At Least In Rhode Island

As of January 2017, 29 states have legalized medical marijuana.  However, marijuana remains a Schedule l substance under the Controlled Substances Act.  Substances in Schedule l are determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have no medical use, and states that allow the use of marijuana for medical use violate federal law. Continue Reading Food and Drug Administration’s Regulation of Cannabis

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

This week, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto informed the world that his country is taking its relationship with cannabis to the next level.

PNC Bank is closing its account with an influential marijuana legalization group, the Marijuana Policy Project.

Oklahoma will become the latest state to weigh in on the legalization of medical marijuana after the secretary of state’s office certified a ballot measure.

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

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in the news for two reasons today: he’s testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on his possible links to Russia and a letter he wrote to Congress indicating his disapproval of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment has surfaced.

Last month we reported that Congress extended the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment.  No sooner was this extension passed,  but Sessions wrote to Congress seeking its repeal.   As many readers know, the Amendment prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws.  It is, in essence, a victory for states’ rights, in the sense that they can decide whether to make medical marijuana legal, without fear of federal government interference.

Yesterday massroots.com, and today The Washington Post reported that in May, Sessions wrote to Congress stating that “it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department [of Justice] to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long term uptick in violent crime.”

Of course, the “historic drug epidemic” to which Sessions refers has nothing to do with cannabis, but involves opiates, and, according to the Washington Post, a growing body of research shows that opiate overdoses decrease in states in which medical marijuana is legal.  Sessions also wrote that “[t]he Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous traffickers who threaten American lives.”  It is difficult to understand how Rohrabacher-Farr prevents the federal government from enforcing the Controlled Substances Act against those engaged in trafficking in drugs across state lines.

Sessions’ position is contrary to that of the President who expressed support for medical marijuana laws during his campaign.  However, over the past several months there have been a number of mixed signals from the Administration regarding enforcement of the federal prohibition on the possession and sale of cannabis.  These mixed signals have created tremendous uncertainty in all segments of the cannabis industry, but it is hard to believe that the Administration really intends to disrupt what has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

 

 

We could not let 4/20, National Weed Day, pass without a post, so here is an article from the Associated Press on the history and origins of the “holiday.”