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

First, we have an entry for the “Better Luck Next Time” files.  New York failed to pass a legalization deal.  Perhaps cannabis proponents will have better luck in 2020.

Their neighbors to the south are making some progress on medical marijuana expansion.  But the jury’s still out on whether New Jersey governor Phil Murphy will sign the legislation.

Directing our gaze further south, Mississippi‘s Medical Marijuana 2020 has two-thirds the number of signatures they need to put medical marijuana on the ballot.  The deadline to turn in petitions is September.

State attorneys general have been quite vocal about cannabis lately.  Now Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is calling for the state to decriminalize marijuana.

But what about hemp, marijuana’s straight arrow cousin?  Texas has legalized it, and the Postal Service will ship it, but banking is still a problem.

Speaking of banking, the House Appropriations Committee has passed the 2020 Financial Services and General Government bill, which includes protections for banks serving marijuana companies in states where cannabis is legal.  These protections last only one year.

Other House activities surrounding cannabis this week included a hearing before the Small Business Committee on the difficulties the industry has dealing with the Small Business Administration.

Higher education has taken notice of marijuana.  The University of Connecticut is now offering an online cannabis horticulture class.  The Cleveland School of Cannabis (please tell me their cheer is Go Joints!) is expanding into Columbus.  Heading in the opposite direction are the community colleges of West Virginia.  In order to qualify for free tuition, students must pass a drug test, and THC is one of the banned substances.

Finally, we have news of a new campaign from the Edmonton Police Service.  “Put your Skunk in the Trunk” is the name of their effort to get people to keep their marijuana stowed away legally.  Note: you really want to click on the link to see the poster they’re using.

See you next week!

Following closely on the heels of a similar law in New York City, effective January 1, 2020, it will be unlawful for Nevada employers to reject a job applicant who tests positive for cannabis on a pre-employment drug test. While there is debate as to whether some medical and recreational cannabis laws, including in Maine, allow an employer to take action based on off-duty or off-premises cannabis use, when it comes to job applicants, Nevada law could not be more clear. Continue Reading Nevada Becomes the First State to Restrict Employer Use of Pre-Employment Cannabis Tests

On February 19, 2019, the Michigan Court of Appeals considered whether a job applicant rejected for a position due to a positive test result for marijuana could sue under the state’s Medical Marihuana Act (MMA). At issue was the following from the MMA:

A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card is not subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act . . . .”

In an unpublished decision, the court affirmed dismissal of the complaint finding that the MMA “does not provide an independent right protecting the medical use of marijuana in all circumstances, nor does it create a protected class for users of medical marijuana.” (The court converted the decision to a published decision on April 23, 2019.) In addition, the court noted that because the City “would have been able to terminate plaintiff’s employment at any time after her employment began for any or no reason, it logically follows that the [City] could rescind its conditional offer of employment at any time and for any or no reason at all.” In other words, the plaintiff had no “right” to a job with the City and, thus, had no basis to bring suit under the MMA. Of course, this leaves open the question of whether the case would have turned out differently had the plaintiff been offered something other than an at-will position. Importantly, nothing in the decision suggests that its analysis is limited to public entities and, thus, private employers may benefit from its reasoning as well.

The medical cannabis laws in the United States vary greatly. Some states, like Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts, have ruled that an employee testing positive for cannabis can bring suit against an employer for enforcing their drug-free workplace policies. Additional states provide employment protections to medical cannabis users, including Arizona, New York, and others. Thus, it is difficult for employers to have a “one-size-fits-all” policy regarding cannabis use. Employers are encouraged to work with experienced employment counsel before taking action against a medical cannabis user and continue to monitor developments in this evolving area of law.

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

We start out west, where California may not wait for the feds to act on CBD.  The state is in the process of legalizing the use of CBD and permitting the sale of hemp-derived CBD in food, beverages and cosmetics.

And it’s not just the states who want in on legal CBD.  Kroger is now selling CBD topicals (which are legal, unlike CBD-infused food, drink, cosmetics, etc.) in 17 states.

In New Mexico, lawmakers have added opioid addiction to the list of conditions allowing the use of medical marijuana.  But is there any proof that medical cannabis can help to reduce opioid addiction?  A study that gave a tentative “yes” as an answer to that question, has been expanded and now seems to indicate the answer is “no.”  For those of you brave enough to read the actual Stanford study, it’s posted here.

But could marijuana help with treatment for metabolic disorders?  UC Riverside has just received a grant for a three-year study to find out.  Let’s not make any predictions until all the data is in.

Will Delaware be the next state to legalize recreational cannabis?  As we’ve reported before, a bill to do so is moving through the legislature, but the governor opposes it, so it’s definitely not a sure thing.

In Alabama, a study group has been authorized by the governor to look into legalizing medical marijuana.  While it’s unlikely that any action will result in 2019, 2020 may be a big year in that regard.

Turning our attention to Europe, a committee of senators in France have agreed in principle to approve medical cannabis.  Nothing’s final yet, but indications are that this will happen.  Meanwhile in Italy, despite a ruling against “cannabis light,” the low THC market continues to flourish.

See you next week!

 

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign a comprehensive recreational cannabis bill.  While the “Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act” contains extensive provisions preserving an employer’s right to ban cannabis and otherwise have a “zero tolerance” substance abuse policy, there are potential traps for the unwary and, thus, employers should carefully consider how the new law will impact their existing substance abuse and drug testing policies and procedures.  Continue Reading Half Baked: Illinois Legislature Includes Some Employer Protections in New Recreational Cannabis Law – But Beware the Traps

Federal trademark registrations are now possible to obtain for some hemp-related trademarks.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) recent guidance, Examination Guide 1-19  “Examination of Marks for Cannabis and Cannabis-Related Goods and Services after Enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill” issued on May 2, 2019 (Guide 1-19), clarifies the procedure for examining applications for marks covering cannabis and cannabis-derived goods and services in light of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334 (also known as the “2018 Farm Bill”).  Guide 1-19 does not change the requirements for obtaining a trademark registration, but instead explains that hemp-related federal trademark registrations (in certain instances) are not barred as a matter of law.  Continue Reading USPTO Allows Hemp-related Trademarks on or after December 20, 2018

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

First, a point of personal pride.  The Blunt Truth started in February 2016, with the slightly crazy idea that a BigLaw firm could talk about marijuana on a regular basis.  As of this week, we’ve reached our 300th post.  Thanks to all of you loyal readers, and rest assured, we’re good for another 300!

We predicted last week that Illinois would be the next state to legalize recreational marijuana.  We were right.  As of this posting, the governor still needs to sign the legislation, but since he’s indicated his support, we’ll go ahead and call it.

Other big news this week included the Food and Drug Administration’s first-ever hearing on CBD.  There was no shortage of speakers, from all walks of life, and those in favor of regulating the industry stressed the need for quick action.  Among those waiting for the agency’s guidance: Ben & Jerry’s.

The latest piece of cannabis banking (cannabanking?) news is that protections for banks serving the legal marijuana industry have made their way into a Congressional spending bill.   Stay tuned for more on this, as it’s a long way from enacted.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to weigh in on the scheduling of cannabis.  It is holding a case challenging the prohibition of marijuana in abeyance, rather than affirming the lower court’s dismissal.  This is so that the court can take action against the DEA, which has (in the court’s opinion) a “history of dilatory proceedings,” should the agency fail to change the legal status of cannabis in a reasonable period of time.

In our continuing series, “Where Do the Candidates Stand on Marijuana”? today’s installment concerns Kirsten Gillibrand.  She has a plan to legalize cannabis if elected.

See you next week!

The District of Columbia is one of only two jurisdictions (the other is Vermont) which have legalized possession of recreational marijuana but where sales remain illegal.  Wait, what?  That’s correct; in your nation’s capital, you can use recreational MJ, but you can’t buy or sell it.  Continue Reading DC Mayor Begins Effort to Legalize Recreational MJ Sales

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

In the race to be the next state to legalize recreational marijuana, Illinois has pulled ahead.  The state Senate has passed an adult-use cannabis bill, which now moves on to the state House.  The legislation is supported by the governor, so it looks as if this will happen.

New York, which looked ready to legalize earlier this year, has had some difficulties of late.  But things may be starting to turn around.  Lawmakers have made some tweaks to legislation that would allow recreational use.

Meanwhile, legislators in North Dakota are taking a pro-active approach to the question, by studying the implications of legalization.  Although an initiative to approve recreational use was defeated last year, the question may appear on the 2020 ballot, and legislators want to be ready if it is approved.

As for medical marijuana, the Texas legislature has approved an expansion to the state’s program.  New Jersey has also approved expansion.  The news was less good in Alabama, where a bill to legalize medical cannabis seems to have stalled in the state House.  And, despite strong support in the legislature, the Iowa governor has vetoed medical marijuana expansion in the state.

From the “well, that’s unexpected” files, the governor of Utah took the federal government to task over its treatment of medical marijuana and banking specifically.  “They ought to be ashamed,” he said.  And this from someone who originally opposed medical cannabis in his state.

And while we’re on the subject of politicians, you may be wondering what former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is doing, now that he’s no longer in Congress.  Wonder no longer: he’s now a shareholder and advisory board member at BudTrader.

See you next week!