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

New Jersey (finally) passes a legalization bill.  South Dakota and Montana continue to struggle with implementing the will of the voters.  North Dakota, on the other hand, moves forward with legislation to allow adult-use cannabis.  On the federal level, members of Congress ask President Biden to grant clemency to those with marijuana convictions.  Merrick Garland gets a Senate hearing and discusses enforcement of marijuana laws.  And finally, we have some movie news, with a New Jersey angle.

new jersey

The Garden State finally got off the legislation roller coaster this week and passed a bill allowing adult use of cannabis.  If you want a look at the ups and downs, just check out The Week in Weed for the past three months.

south dakota & montana

We’ve discussed South Dakota almost as much as New Jersey this year.  As we reported last week, the legislature is debating a bill that would delay implementation of medical marijuana for a year.  Now, those in favor of medicinal cannabis have a proposal that would shorten the delay in setting up a program and provide those with “debilitating medical conditions” a way to avoid criminal penalties in the interim.

As for Montana, Rep. Bill Mercer (R-Billings) wants to delay the sale of adult-use marijuana until 2023.  He says the ballot initiative’s requirement that systems be in place by October of this year is unworkable.  He’s also concerned that a court challenge will invalidate the entire measure.  As always, further bulletins as events warrant.

north dakota

In the marijuana realm, it’s important not to mix up your Dakotas.  We’ve chronicled South Dakota’s many issues in many blog posts, but haven’t devoted as much time to their neighbor to the north.  Here’s where things stand now: In response to a push to put adult-use legalization on the ballot in 2022, legislators took up a legalization proposal themselves this week.  The House passed the bill, which now goes to the Senate.

clemency

Let’s turn our attention to the federal government.  37 House members signed a letter to President Biden, asking him to pardon those convicted of federal cannabis offenses.  Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) led the group in asking for clemency for those in prison for activity now legalized in so many states.

merrick garland

President Biden’s nominee for Attorney General, Merrick Garland, answered questions on enforcement of federal cannabis laws.  He spoke against spending limited resources on prosecutions in states with legal marijuana.  He also said that stopping the “overemphasis on marijuana possession” would help to address systemic racism.

and finally

In the time it’s taken for New Jersey lawmakers to pass a cannabis bill, Kevin Smith has written a new “Clerks” movie.  In what will come as no surprise, Jay and Silent Bob now run a weed store.

Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!

On January 25, 2021, the National Labor Relations Board’s Division of Advice released an Advice Memo on the issue of whether certain cannabis workers were exempt from the National Labor Relations Act as agricultural workers. The Advice Memo noted at the outset that the “Board has not ruled on whether employees of a marijuana enterprise are agricultural laborers or statutory employees.” The difference in classification is important – the Board has jurisdiction over statutory employees but not agricultural laborers, which means the latter cannot seek redress from the NLRB for alleged labor law violations.

In determining whether a worker is an agricultural laborer, the Board, pursuant to an annual appropriations rider, looks to the broader definition of “agriculture” in the Fair Labor Standards Act, which includes the production of “horticultural commodities” as agricultural activity and, thus, exempt from the NLRB. In concluding that the workers at issue in the Advice Memo were exempt from the NLRA, the Division of Advice highlighted that the workers “perform a substantial amount of agricultural functions” within the meaning of the FLSA standard, including harvesting, pruning, and sorting of plants. Both of the employees used their hands rather than machines to perform their tasks, and were not involved in “transform[ing] the natural product from its raw state.”

The Division of Advice distinguished the facts before it from situations in two previous Advice Memos issued regarding marijuana facility employees. In one, the “processing assistants used machines that transformed the raw plant into retail products, whereas the two employees here handle the plants by hand and do not substantially transform them.” In the other, the functions were similar but the context was different, with the Division of Advice determining that the FLSA’s definition of “agriculture” was inapplicable because, unlike in the instant situation, the employees were not engaged in organizing activities as required by the appropriations rider.

The Advice Memo was limited to its facts and should not be read to mean that exempt cannabis or other agricultural workers are entitled to no protections. Indeed, some states have enacted statutes that protect the right of agricultural workers to organize. Importantly, Advice Memos are not binding on future Board determinations. And, given the Division of Advice wrote the memo before President Biden fired the NLRB General Counsel and the Deputy General Counsel, it remains to be seen whether a Biden Board will issue a decision that actually decides whether other cannabis workers who participate in the transformation of the product are agricultural workers or statutory employees.

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

We have updates on the situations in New Jersey and Virginia.   Many things happened in South Dakota this week.  New Mexico starts the legalization process.  A wide array of governors express support for cannabis.  And finally, marijuana has some effect on brainstorming.

new jersey

As promised last week, we have an update on the situation in the Garden State.  There’s still no cannabis law.  Talks broke down over underage possession penalties, which have been a stumbling block all along.  The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), announced on Wednesday that he doesn’t have the votes for any measures other than the two that currently await the governor’s signature or veto.  So will Governor Murphy (D) sign bills that contain language he doesn’t like?  Will he veto them and fail to keep a campaign promise?  We’ll just have to wait and see…

virginia

As we reported last week, lawmakers in Virginia’s General Assembly and Senate passed legalization bills.  Legislators must reach a compromise by February 26 (next Friday) in order to present a bill to the governor to sign.  And that’s where the heavy lifting comes in.

south dakota

So much is happening in South Dakota, very little of it good for legalization.  Regular readers will doubtless recall that South Dakota passed both recreational and medical marijuana ballot initiatives last November.  Governor Noem (R) has already taken action against adult-use with a lawsuit.  And the state’s Attorney General has indicated that he will not argue the law is constitutional if there’s an appeal to the Supreme Court.  Now, Noem is moving against medical cannabis.  A House committee passed a bill designed to delay implementation of the program for a year.

new mexico

Things look a bit brighter for legalization advocates in the Land of Enchantment.  The House Health and Human Services Committee passed legislation with a social equity component this week.  Next stop: the House Tax Committee.  The deadline to send a bill to the Governor, who supports legalization, is March 20.

governors

Governor Noem’s stand against cannabis legalization may make her an outlier among her fellow governors.  Chief executives from states as diverse as Kansas, Kentucky, Wisconsin and New York are all arguing in favor of reform, if not outright legalization.

and finally

In what we hesitate to describe as “news,” it turns out that marijuana use leads to business ideas that are more creative, but less feasible, than ideas generated without cannabis.

Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!

The unlikely tale of the sub-reddit Wall Street Bets (WSB) taking on the world of institutional investing seems fit for a Adam McKay film adaptation, but the saga isn’t over yet. Enter the marijuana stocks – the epilogue at the end of the film that signals WSB’s influence may not be over (cue an ethereal cover song playing in the background). Much to the dismay of some more seasoned WSB members, the sub’s notoriety has caused an uptick in membership, bringing with it a slew of new members trying to find the next big get rich quick stock (including, perhaps, some whose intentions are more nefarious, i.e. the big bad hedge funds themselves). The inevitable outcome was center stage last week as the markets saw huge gains (and then deep dips) on weed stocks. After some posts and comments signaling that gains could be made investing in companies like Aphria Inc. (APHA), Tilray, Inc. (TLRY), and Sundial Growers (SNDL), the stock prices took off and pot stocks across the board benefited from the attention. While more than a few of the posts and comments advised that these were long-term investments, the quick gains were exactly what the masses wanted, and, unlike their GME predecessors, they had no David v. Goliath righteous indignation to hold the stocks long-term. This new “pump and dump” culture has left many WSB members to wonder if this is the beginning of the end for the once under the radar sub that was more fond of posts showing how much money was lost rather than how much was gained. For now, the new interest in weed stocks has brought to light some potential markers that the stock may still be a good long-term investment. There is discussion that the new Democratic-led congress could make legalization a reality, and with more states legalizing or decriminalizing weed, the bets may pay off. In the meantime, I’ll keep holding my 14 shares of APHA @ $24.33 and hope my small contribution to the phenomenon that is MEME stocks pays off. To the moon!

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

Virginia makes progress on legalizing adult-use cannabis.  A South Dakota court overturns the legalization ballot measure.  New Jersey still has no marijuana legislation.  Will Congress treat CBD as a supplement?  Will Congress allow cannabis research?  And finally, Don Lemon doesn’t endorse your CBD product.

virginia

Legalization moved forward again this week, as both chambers of the state legislature voted in favor of allowing adult-use cannabis.  The bills differ significantly, so there’s more work to do before legislation can be sent to Governor Northam.

south dakota

If anyone hasn’t been following this saga, here’s a quick recap: The Mount Rushmore state’s ballot measure allowing marijuana passed with almost 70% approval in November.  Governor Kristi Noem (R), long an opponent of any form of legalization, supported a lawsuit seeking to overturn the measure.  This week, Circuit Judge Christina Klinger sided with the Governor.  She determined that the measure covered more than one topic, and therefore violates the state’s Constitution.  Next stop – the state’s Supreme Court.

new jersey

So Virginia moves forward; South Dakota moves back.  And New Jersey?  It’s still not moving at all.  Penalties for underage possession continue to dominate discussion.  The deadline for the governor to act is now set for February 18.  Rest assured, we’ll have more next week!

cbd

Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much these days, but the need for CBD regulations brings out the bipartisan spirit.  A group of 19 Representatives introduced a bill that would legalize hemp (and its derivatives) under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.  The act also requires the FDA  to set up a regulatory framework for these products.

research

Aisle-crossing also reigns in the area of marijuana research.  Three senators re-introduced the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act, which passed unanimously last year.  The bill would simplify the application process for scientists wishing to study cannabis, as well as encourage the FDA to develop medicines derived from marijuana.  2021 could be a busy year for the Food and Drug Administration!

and finally

In what is now becoming a regular feature of this blog, we have yet another phony celebrity CBD endorsement.  This time, it’s CNN anchor Don Lemon.

Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!

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

We bring you an update on Virginia and New Jersey.  New bills appear in New Mexico and Minnesota.  Lawsuits hover over the rollout of legalized marijuana in South Dakota and Mississippi.  Will an amendment banning future legalization succeed in Idaho? Democratic Senate leaders express support for federal legalization.  And finally, Martha Stewart promotes her CBD products for pets.

virginia

Adult-use legalization bills advanced out of both House and Senate committees this week.  That sets up a floor vote today.  Assuming the bills pass, a bicameral conference committee would then sort out the differences in the bills.  This looks promising for proponents of legalization, but one should not count ones’ chickens before they’re hatched.

new jersey

Which brings us to New Jersey.  Back in November, a legalization ballot measure passed easily.  And then, the legislature started the process of enacting legislation, which so far, has gone nowhere.  The latest development involves a vote on a clean-up bill dealing with underage possession.  Further bulletins as events warrant.

new mexico

Momentum is on the side of legalization in the Land of Enchantment.  Five bills could appear this term, and the Governor is strongly in favor of adult use.  Voters also support some form of legalization or decriminalization.

minnesota

The road to legalization looks a bit rockier in Minnesota.  House Democrats began a campaign this week to pass legislation, although the Republican-controlled Senate seems unlikely to go along.  Partly a response to legalization in South Dakota, and partly out of concern for social justice issues, Democrats say marijuana is coming.  Republicans say the focus should be on recovering from COVID.

lawsuits

Speaking of South Dakota, even after a successful ballot initiative, the courts can still get involved.  A judge heard oral argument this week on whether the ballot initiative passed in November is unconstitutional.  There’s no timeline for a ruling, and the case is ultimately expected to wind up in the state’s Supreme Court.  Meanwhile, the Mississippi Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on overturning the medical marijuana ballot initiative on April 14.

idaho

Perhaps a more efficient way for opponents to prevent legalization is to make it illegal.  As we’re reported before, an Idaho state Senator seeks to do just that.  The state Senate passed Senator Grow’s measure on Wednesday.  It now goes to the state House.  And yes, we’ve noticed the irony of the sponsor’s last name.

federal legalization

Now that Democrats control the U.S. Senate, will federal legalization happen?  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) hope so.  Stating that the “war on drugs is a war on people,” the three promise legislation in a matter of weeks.

and finally

As regular readers will doubtless recall, Martha Stewart recently released a line of CBD gummies pâte de fruit.  But why should humans have all the fun?  Now, her dogs can enjoy as well.

Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!

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

Arizona has already started sales of adult-use marijuana.  In contrast, New Jersey still hasn’t passed legislation allowing sales.  Virginia is making progress on its legalization bill.  On the federal level, the USDA’s hemp rule may face a freeze.  Meanwhile, the FDA withdrew its CBD guidance.  And finally, there’s weed in the City of London.

arizona

Recreational marijuana sales start today in Arizona, a mere three months after the state fully legalized.  Starting with existing medical marijuana dispensaries that have already been through a vetting process made the system more efficient than the years’ long process we’ve seen in other states.  Additional licenses are expected to be approved starting in the spring.

new jersey

In the Garden State, however, we have a completely different picture.  New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) and the legislature set to work on legislation to legalize back in November, but so far, have nothing to show for it.  Penalties for underage possession dominate the disagreement, and the impasse seems likely to end in a veto.

virginia

Meanwhile, in Virginia, a legalization bill passed the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Subcommittee this week.  The bill now moves to additional committees, so we’re a long way from final passage.  The Governor’s goal is to establish legal sales in 2023.

usda hemp

As we reported last week, the USDA issued its final hemp rule.  As we also reported, new administrations sometimes take a second look at rules finalized in the waning days of previous administrations.  Although there is no official “freeze” on the hemp rules, they meet the standard for reopening the comment period.  For a look at the rules, see our take here.

fda & cbd

The FDA is facing the same scenario with its document on CBD.  It submitted guidance to the Office of Management and Budget last March, and the industry has been waiting for it to emerge ever since.  It appears the wait will continue, as the FDA officially withdrew the document, in light of the new administration’s instruction to pull pending rules.

and finally

City of London police discovered a cannabis factory set up next door to the Bank of England building in the heart of the City.  The presence of over 800 plants created a “strong smell of cannabis,” leading to the raid.  No word on what this might mean for cannabis banking!

Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!

On January 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its final rule that provides regulations for the production of hemp in the United States. The final rule incorporates modifications to the interim final rule that has been in place since October 31, 2019, however, much of the regulatory paradigm remains unchanged. Below are some highlights from the final rule:

  • DEA Certification Requirement

Consistent with the interim final rule, the final rule requires DEA certification for laboratories testing hemp for THC levels and purity. This will most likely result in fewer laboratories available overall for hemp testing. This rule will not be enforced until December 31, 2022 because there is already an insufficient number of DEA-licensed laboratories available for hemp testing.

  • .3% THC Limit for Hemp and Heightened Negligence Standard

The USDA did not raise the 0.3% THC limit for what qualifies as Farm Bill-Compliant hemp, as opposed to Schedule 1 marijuana. However, the final rule increases the negligence threshold from 0.5% to 1% THC. Under the final rule, the maximum number of negligence violations that a farmer can receive in a calendar year is limited to one. Farmers who receive three negligence violations over a 5-year period will be barred from producing hemp for 5 years.

  • Increased Sampling Window

The USDA increased the timeframe in which farmers must harvest their hemp crops after sampling for THC threshold testing. Under the interim final rule, farmers had to test a sample batch of their harvest no more than 15 days prior to the anticipated harvest date. Under the final rule, farmers must harvest within 30 calendar days of sampling.

  • Hot Harvest Disposal

Under the interim final rule, farmers were limited in their options to dispose of their hot harvest compliantly, all of which required an outside contractor to remove the noncompliant harvest. The final rule incorporates several options for on-farm disposal of hemp that tests above the allowable THC limits. Remediation techniques allowed include blending the entire plant to use as bio mass, and disposing of the THC concentrated hemp flowers and using the remainder of the plant for other purposes.

The final rule is effective March 22 of this year. You can find the full publication of the final rule here.

 

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

The USDA issued a final hemp rule.  Virginia began the process of legalizing cannabis.  New Mexico faces a lawsuit over medical marijuana plant limits.  Governor Cuomo offers support for legalization.  The road to legal marijuana in Idaho may have a new obstacle to overcome.  And finally, a word to CBD companies: stop with the phony celebrity endorsements.

usda hemp rule

At long last, the USDA released its final rules on hemp.  The industry was less than pleased with the interim rules, as we reported here and here.  The final rules don’t assuage all hemp growers’ concerns, but they are viewed as a step in the right direction.  Of course, new administrations often freeze new rules, so we may not have heard the last on this.

virginia

The Virginia Senate held hearings on a legalization bill this week, with more to follow in the coming days.  Discussion centered around how cannabis would be regulated and taxed in the state, along with social equity issues.

new mexico

A medical marijuana operator in New Mexico sued the state over its plant-count limit.  Ultra Health, which began its court battle with the state in 2016, argues that the limit violates a court order.  The medical cannabis program has grown to the point that new limits set in 2019 are no longer adequate to satisfy demand, according to the company’s latest filing.

new york

Meanwhile, in New York, a new legislative session brings with it the prospect of new legalization efforts.  As we’re reported before, Governor Cuomo (D) is strongly in favor.  His arguments stress the need for increased revenue, part of which would go to a social equity fund.

idaho

State Senator C. Scott Grow (R-Eagle) proposed an amendment to the Idaho Constitution that would make permanently illegal any drug not legalized in the state as of 2020.  With Montana’s vote to legalize, the state finds itself largely surrounded by adult-use legal jurisdictions.  Grow’s object is to preserve the “Idaho way of life.”

and finally

We’ve mentioned before that Clint Eastwood does not promote CBD products and will sue you if you say he does.  Well, some people have not gotten that message (subscription required).  And he’s not the only celebrity with this problem!  Bill Maher had some choice words for a company using his name, as did Olivia Newton-John.  C’mon people; if your product is that good, you should be able to find someone to actually endorse it.

Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!

As more states legalize cannabis, growth in job opportunities rises. However, with more jobs, the greater the risk of employment related lawsuits at the hiring stage. While there are a host of issues cannabis companies need to consider at the hiring stage (i.e. background checks, policies, benefits, payroll, etc.), this blog post focuses on salary histories.

Salary history bans at the State level. Many states and municipalities have enacted bans that prevent employers from asking applicants about their prior salary information.

For example, California employers cannot ask applicants for prior salary histories and, if the applicant shares this information voluntarily, employers cannot use the information to determine pay. San Francisco goes a step further and adds that employers cannot disclose a current or former employee’s salary without their consent unless it’s publicly available, required by law, or subject to a collective bargaining agreement.

New Jersey, where voters approved a cannabis legalization referendum, prohibits employers from requesting prior wages, salaries, or benefits. But employers can confirm pay history and consider pay history in determining the applicant’s salary, benefits, and other compensation if such history is voluntarily disclosed.

Oregon, which recently decriminalized drugs, prohibits employers from asking prospective employees about their compensation history until after an offer is made. Employers are also prohibited from paying employees who perform comparable work different pay rates because of their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability, or age.

Other states with similar salary bans (where cannabis has been legalized in some form) include: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Vermont, and Washington.

The Federal government could soon invoke a salary history ban. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to sign the Paycheck Fairness Act (Sec. 10) during his term, which, among other things, would create a federal ban on requesting a job applicant’s prior salary history.

Specifically, the Act would make it illegal for employers to use wage history to decide whether to hire a prospective employee. It would also prohibit employers from relying on or seeking prospective employees’ pay histories to determine their wages, and prevent employers from taking any adverse action against any employee or prospective employee for refusing to provide salary histories. There is one exception though: “an employer may rely on wage history if it is voluntarily provided by a prospective employee, after the employer makes an offer of employment with an offer of compensation to the prospective employee, to support a wage higher than the wage offered by the employer.”

Employers who violate the Act may be subject to civil penalties and individual and collective/class actions.