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

In what’s become a regular feature, we have more politicians who are coming out in favor of legalized marijuana, or at least, backing away from their previous opposition.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a potential 2020 White House contender, is joining Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who is also speculated to be a possible presidential candidate, in the fight to legalize marijuana under federal law.

After years of halting steps, top prosecutors and elected officials in New York City on Tuesday made a sudden dash toward ending many of the marijuana arrests that for decades have entangled mostly black and Hispanic people.

More states are putting marijuana on the ballot.  Ohio is making a move in that direction.

A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize adult-use marijuana in Ohio has cleared an initial hurdle after winning approval from the state’s top attorney.

A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio completed the first step Thursday in qualifying the measure for a statewide ballot.

So what do you do when marijuana prices tumble?  Start growing hemp.

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (AP) — A glut of legal marijuana has driven Oregon pot prices to rock-bottom levels, prompting some nervous growers to start pivoting to another type of cannabis to make ends meet — one that doesn’t come with a high.

 

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

Colorado was among the first states in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.  Now, it’s the first state to move on marijuana tasting rooms.

Licensed marijuana “tasting rooms” could be operating in Colorado this time next year if Gov. John Hickenlooper signs a first-of-its-kind bill that state lawmakers sent to his desk Thursday.

Colorado lawmakers on Thursday approved pioneering legislation allowing marijuana retailers to establish tasting rooms for customers to consume select products – much like a brewery…

One of the selling point of legal cannabis is that it raises government revenue.  Is that actually true?

A new report finds that legalizing and taxing marijuana boosts revenue for state and local governments, but not by much.

Tax revenue from recreational marijuana makes up a small percentage of annual general fund revenues in states with the most established retail markets, such as Colorado, Washington and Oregon, Moody’s Investors Service said on Tuesday.

But what about government spending on marijuana?  Specifically on beer and marijuana?

The Ontario government has contributed $300,000 to help a Toronto company work with Loyalist College in Belleville to develop what it says will be the world’s first beer brewed from cannabis.

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

Could legal recreational marijuana be in Michigan’s future?  A referendum may be on the November ballot.

Associated Press and Gongwer News Service – Michigan’s elections board said organizers collected enough signatures, but the measure will first go to the Republican-led Legislature, which could enact it or let it proceed to a statewide vote.

In other state news, Missouri is moving towards legal medical marijuana.  The state House has voted in favor of a bill to give access to terminal patients.

Missouri’s House has passed a medical cannabis measure that would allow individuals with terminal illness and 11 other conditions to access the program, the Columbia Missourian reports.

When marijuana becomes legal in a jurisdiction, what happens to all those old arrests?  Seattle is going to expunge them.

Seattle’s mayor says it will help “right the wrongs of the failed War on Drugs.”

And in what is becoming a continuing series, another politician is speaking out in favor of legal marijuana.  This time, it’s Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

The California senator, a longtime opponent of legalization, says she’s come around.

Finally, have you wondered when the craft beer industry would jump on the marijuana bandwagon?  The answer is this fall.

Keith Villa, the man who created the recipe for the popular Blue Moon beer, has a new project: a marijuana-infused beer made by his new brewing company.

 

No. We are not there yet. Are we making progress? Maybe.

The biggest impediment to explosive growth in the marijuana industry is lack of access to banking and robust financial services. Because banks face the risk of prosecution for money laundering and aiding and abetting in drug trafficking, most banks will not bank marijuana-related businesses (MRBs).

Why would any bank risk prosecution by banking MRBs? In 2014, following the issuance of the Cole Memorandum, the Justice Department and the Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued non-binding guidance on how financial institutions could serve MRBs. (For a more complete analysis of the laws related to banking MRBs see our blog post here.) The FinCEN guidelines called for fairly intensive, ongoing and expensive due diligence of any MRB customers, to the point where the risk/reward ratio for banks became inverted—high risk (jail, loss of banking license), low reward (low profit margins).

While most banks thought the risks far outweighed the benefits of having MRB customers, some financial institutions, mostly local banks and credit unions, saw in the FinCEN guidelines an opportunity and quietly began offering depositary services to MRBs. According to FinCEN, in 2017 there were over 300 financial institutions providing some form of banking services to MRBs. However, the vast majority of business in the industry is conducted in cash. For many businesses that touch the plant, this makes profit and loss statements questionable, taxing authorities nervous, and potential investors dubious about valuations.

Since the publication of the FinCEN statistics, much has happened to banking related to the marijuana industry—some of it good, some bad, and some ugly. Let’s take them in reverse order. Continue Reading Banking Marijuana Related Business: Are We There Yet?

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

Last week, we reported on prominent Republicans beginning to support (some form of) cannabis.  This week, we see Democrats upping the ante.

The push to decriminalize marijuana has picked up another high-profile backer — Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer — just a week after President Donald Trump endorsed letting states decide how to regulate the drug.

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday became the latest senator to co-sponsor Sen. Cory Booker’s bill that would legalize marijuana.

Now that GOP senators are coming out in support of legalization, Democrats may be playing a game of catch-up that could have consequences at the polls.

And finally, the award for best dispensary name goes to MedMen which recently opened in New York City.

Now that a MedMen dispensary opens in New York City, will New Yorkers have more access to medical marijuana?

Welcome to the 4/20 edition of Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.

It’s been a big week for Republicans embracing legal marijuana or marijuana-related products.  Donald Trump, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have all moved to embrace the plant.

President Donald Trump will lift his administration’s plans for a possible crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana after talks with a Colorado senator, the White House said on Friday, an action that undercuts U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The former House speaker once said he was “unalterably opposed” to legalization. Now, after joining a cannabis company’s board, he is arguing for change.

Today, the Senate Majority Leader has made good on his words. Mitch McConnell has officially filed his promised hemp farming bill.

But it’s not just the Republicans who are giving cannabis a second glance.  Both candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in the New York governor’s race are speaking about legalization.

A week after telling two interviewers her support for legalizing recreational use of marijuana in New York was revenue-based, Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon said Wednesday that it’s now foremost a racial justice issue for her.

Is the governor paving the way to legalizing recreational marijuana in New York?

In non-political news, it looks like the FDA is going to approve the use of an epilepsy drug made from the marijuana plant.

The medication would treat seizures that typically affect children.

GW Pharma spiked to an 11-week high Tuesday after an internal review hinted at the likelihood the FDA will approve its cannabis-based anti-seizure drug.

Happy 4/20 everyone!  In case you’re wondering about the origins of this celebration, check out Leafly’s article here: The Origin and Meaning of the 4/20 Holiday.

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

Although marijuana is legal in California on the state level, that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing for the industry.

Nearly 1,000 individual cannabis businesses have been sent cease-and-desist letters or emails by California regulators.

Talk about a buzz kill. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave the go-ahead to prosecute marijuana growers in California, where voters approved recreational pot nearly two years ago.

A lack of diversity in the marijuana industry has been a problem for the state of Maryland, but the legislature is seeking to address that.

The bill includes language which would force regulators to consider race and barriers for minorities, including women, with the issuance of those licenses.

Maryland lawmakers agreed to expand the state’s medical marijuana industry, in large part to resolve a conflict over minority representation in the business.

And finally, perhaps the future tagline will be, “Have a toke and a smile.”

The U.S. legal cannabis industry is expected to reach $75 billion in sales by 2030, according to research firm Cowen & Co.

As previously reported here, on November 8, 2016, Maine voters approved “Question 1 – An Act to Legalize Marijuana” (“the Act”), which allows for, among other things, the recreational use of marijuana. The Act became the first law of its kind in the nation to protect employees and applicants from adverse employment action based on their use of off-duty and off-site marijuana.

Simply stated, the Act prohibits employers from refusing to employ or otherwise taking any adverse action against any person age 21 or older based on that individual’s off-premises marijuana use. However, the Act permits employers to bar the on-premises use and possession of marijuana and to discipline employees for being under the influence of marijuana in the workplace. Employers may no longer test job applicants for marijuana. Moreover, according to the Maine Department of Labor, for purposes of a reasonable suspicion drug test, an employee’s positive drug test, by itself, will not be sufficient to prove that the employee is “under the influence” of marijuana.

Continue Reading Maine Employers Receive Little Guidance From Department of Labor on New Recreational Marijuana Law

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

California, Oregon and other marijuana-friendly states are seeking a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hopes of resolving the conflict between federal and state laws that has left the nation’s cannabis industry in legal limbo.

The chief executive of one of Canada’s largest banks said it would weigh financing cannabis companies after legalization takes place later this summer. TD Bank CEO Bharat Masrani said the Toronto-based financial institution is studying the issue, and any potential clients in the cannabis industry should have a presence only in countries where recreational or medical cannabis remains legal on a federal level, according to the Canadian Press.

Experts have proposed using medical marijuana to help Americans struggling with opioid addiction. Now, two studies suggest that there is merit to that strategy.

Can employers deny employment to people who use cannabis under a medical prescription authorized by state law? In more and more states, the answer is now “No.”

Changes in cannabis laws are creating a new haze for employers. What follows is a quick summary citing some (not all) states that now require employers to think twice before denying employment to individuals because they tested positive for the use of marijuana that they are ingesting for state-authorized medical reasons. Continue Reading Budding Development: States Requiring Employers to Tolerate Medical Cannabis Use