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

This week, we see New York issuing its first cannabis licenses.  Ireland considers a bill to decriminalize marijuana use.  Connecticut delays its dispensary openings.  Rhode Island, on the other hand, plans to begin sales this month.  And finally, Thanksgiving weed sales were up this year.

NEW YORK

Good things come to those who wait – the old adage was proven true again this week, as New York issued its first adult-use cannabis licenses.  28 of the first 36 licenses issues went to individuals; the remaining eight went to nonprofits.  All of the licenses went to “justice-involved” individuals or organizations serving those persons.  When will those dispensaries open?  Soon…

IRELAND

Cannabis for personal use may be coming to the Republic of Ireland. Irish MP Gino Kenny introduced a bill that would allow adults 18 and older to possess up to 7 grams of cannabis or 2.5 grams of cannabis resin. The bill would not establish legal sales or cultivation, either by individuals or commercial enterprises.

CONNECTICUT

As a counterpoint to New York’s progress, we have a lack of progress in Connecticut. Originally set for a 2022 opening date, now it appears that retail cannabis dispensaries won’t open in the Nutmeg State until 2023. Delays in the process of approving grow and manufacturing space is setting the process back. Early 2023 now seems to be the earliest stores could open.

RHODE ISLAND

Continuing our focus on small New England states, Rhode Island‘s adult-use market started this week. As early as 5:45 am ET, doors opened on Thursday, with steel drum bands, balloon arches and free samples. One can only imagine this will provide incentive for Connecticut to get its act together.

AND FINALLY

This Thanksgiving, it wasn’t only the beans that were green. Green Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, was the most fruitful sales day for cannabis, raking in over $116 million in sales, showing a 16% increase year-over-year. The day was second only to April 20 in sales. If you’re in the cannabis industry, this is something for which to be thankful.

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

Despite legislative uncertainty (e.g., bills that have been passed, multiple times, but not become law), a wide range of brilliant entrepreneurs, industrial companies, investment mavens, and service providers have been consciously and conscientiously advancing the US cannabis industry’s interests.

MJBizCon and CannaVest West are proof positive – the breadth, depth, and sophistication of cannabis-related products, services, and innovations on display was truly staggering.

Continue Reading Flowers, Gummies & An IP Lawyer’s Impressions of MJBizCon

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

This week, we see Missouri proposing an ambitious timeline to begin cannabis sales. New York is having trouble with licensing. Could Minnesota legalize marijuana, now that the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party controls the State Senate? Kentucky’s governor takes a step towards allowing medical cannabis. Law360 publishes a piece by our own Jen Mora. And finally, two boxing rivals join together to sell edibles.

Continue Reading The Week in Weed: November 18, 2022

The state of intellectual property is in flux within the cannabis industry. On the eve of MJBizCon, below is a brief inventory of where the law stands on cannabis-related issues for branding and technology.

Branding

Federal trademark registrations remain unavailable to conventional cannabis companies, but there are several work arounds and caveats.

Work Arounds:

The general rule is that “unlawful” activities are not eligible for trademark protection. So it is still not possible to obtain a trademark registration for conventional THC-based cannabis products due to cannabis being a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act. But dispensaries also sell lighters, vape pens, rolling papers, and other goods that are not necessarily directed to illegal cannabis. Vape pens and rolling papers could be used for legal products such as tobacco.

The manufacturers of these legal goods can therefore obtain federal registrations for their branding (company name and logo, product name and logo, etc.). The dispensaries or retail outfits can also obtain federal trademark protection for the sale of these legal products, which provides some protection for cannabis itself as a related good once it is no longer a scheduled narcotic. Of course, state trademark registration is also available for any cannabis within the states that have legalized, but with fewer advantages than federal registration.

These work arounds are important to provide immediate protection for companies in the cannabis industry, but also to prepare for federal legalization whenever that occurs. Companies will no doubt flood the patent and trademark office with trademark filings the moment cannabis is no longer a Schedule 1 narcotic. Planting a flag in a “cannabis-adjacent” area will be critical to maintain brand positioning during this momentous growth period.

Caveats:

Recent developments in the law have defined the consumable products eligible for trademark protection.

  • PROTECTIBLE: Delta-8 THC products with a Delta-9 THC content of 0.3% or less. Earlier this year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Delta-8 THC products are considered “hemp” under the 2018 Farm Act, paving the way for companies to obtain federal trademark registrations in this area. Read more about that decision here.
  • NOT PROTECTIBLE: CBD Consumables. CBD concentrates and gummies cannot be protected by federal trademark registrations because the FDA continues to investigate the safety and efficacy of CBD as a supplement.
  • PROTECTIBLE: CBD Topicals (lotions, soaps, etc.). These products are not considered supplements that are under review by the FDA and are therefore eligible for federal trademark protection.

Technology

The legality of a product is irrelevant under patent law. The restrictions applicable to trademark law do not apply to patent law and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will grant patent protection for a product or process even if it is directed to illegal goods or services. So cannabis vape pens, E-cigs, THC extraction techniques, and all other cannabis technology can be patented so long as they are novel inventions and comply with the other requirements of patent law.

Patents are most powerful during a growth period of an industry. The early years of cell phones provided a flurry of patent cases as the major players tried to claim position atop a skyrocketing commercial period. The same can be said for the semiconductor industry. Or the electric vehicle industry. Or even the smokeless fire pit industry.

What about cannabis? The cannabis industry has not yet found itself in a “patent wars” scenario, with some exceptions. Companies in the extraction and E-cig space have tried to elbow out competition by aggressively enforcing their patents against competitors (Read more about that here).

The prevailing thought is that patent enforcement will become much more prevalent when federal legalization occurs. Indeed, it would be naïve to think cannabis would avoid the “patent wars” scenario that so many other industries faced during their growth periods. It is more likely that legalization-based growth will cause the larger players to flex their patent muscle in order to claim the throne of their respective sector of the cannabis space.

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

This week, it’s all about the election. It was a mixed bag for cannabis – two states voted YES and three states voted NO. Let’s have a look at each. Note: shout-out to Marijuana Moment, for their excellent election coverage, including live results by county for each state.

Continue Reading The Week in Weed: November 11, 2022

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

This week, we start off in Nevada, where a judge determined that marijuana should no longer appear on the state’s Schedule I, and where a lot of people would like to open cannabis lounges. Then we travel to Mississippi, where medical marijuana sales will begin in January 2023. In federal news, we see OSHA putting the cannabis industry on notice after the death of a worker. And finally, Chuck Schumer is not working to allow marijuana on Amtrak.

Continue Reading The Week in Weed: November 4, 2022

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

Circle K convenience stores might get into the medical cannabis business in Florida. Tourists in Washington, DC can self-certify to obtain medical marijuana in the city’s dispensaries. Germany considers cannabis legalization. And finally, hemp may be the future of Arizona houses.

Continue Reading The Week in Weed: October 28, 2022

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

This week, Oklahoma announced a special election to decide on legalizing adult-use cannabis. Massachusetts regulators said they were aware of safety concerns at a cannabis production facility following a worker’s death there. Switzerland legalized medical marijuana. And finally, if you’d like some cannabis in Toronto, Uber Eats is only a click away.

Continue Reading The Week in Weed: October 21, 2022

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

This week, the news centered on President Biden’s federal pardon and review of marijuana scheduling. Assuming you’re all up to speed on that topic, let’s have a look at what *else* is going on. The District of Columbia decided not to inspect unlicensed cannabis dealers. New York dispensaries will open this year. Major League Baseball now has an official CBD supplier. And finally, The Onion had something to say about the pardon/scheduling news.

Continue Reading The Week in Weed: October 14, 2022

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

This week, we find many people would like to get into the cannabis business in New York. Legal sales begin in Vermont. Marijuana legalization is popular in Kentucky. And finally, the police are throwing a pot party in Maryland.

BREAKING NEWS

President Biden announced yesterday that he will pardon all person in federal prison for simple marijuana possession. In addition, he is calling on all state governors to do the same for those in state or local facilities. Finally, he is calling on the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to reschedule cannabis.

Continue Reading The Week in Weed: October 7, 2022