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

Chuck Schumer and Hakeem Jeffries are reintroducing the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which would legalize marijuana nationwide.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for this bill to pass though.  Although many Democrats have indicated their support for legalization, Republicans generally and Senator Mitch McConnell specifically control the Senate, and they are not so favorably inclined.

Turning our attention abroad, the Netherlands is going to test out commercial cultivation of adult-use marijuana.  Coffee shops offer marijuana to the public, but supplying the shops is illegal.  This new system would resolve that dilemma.

Italy, however, is a different story.  Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has promised to close shops selling “cannabis light” (cannabis with THC levels below 0.2%).  The move may be more for show in the upcoming European Parliament elections, and industry leaders reacted with more disdain than dismay.

This week brought news on the medical marijuana front from a variety of states.  In Wisconsin, the Finance Committee has rejected the governor’s proposal to legalize medical marijuana.  In Alabama, on the other hand, the full state Senate has approved a medical cannabis bill.  The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

Even Nebraska, one of the most restrictive states as regards marijuana, is making a move to allow medical cannabis.  The Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that now moves to the full legislature.  Fun fact: Nebraska has the country’s only unicameral legislature, so one vote will suffice to pass this bill.

From Missouri, we have both banking and medical marijuana news.  Triad Bank will offer services to cannabusinesses.  And the state’s comment period for medical marijuana rules closed this week.  Final rules are scheduled for early June.

In New Jersey, full legalization stalled earlier this year, and the governor promised to expand medical marijuana by May.  And Gov. Murphy kept that promise.  Meanwhile, the legislature has now abandoned its legalization efforts, so adult-use will have to wait until a 2020 referendum.

Maryland has legalized medical marijuana edibles and the District of Columbia is attempting to legalize a market for its already legal marijuana.

In North Dakota, the governor has signed a bill that lessens the penalties for cannabis possession.  Note: it’s important not to mix up your Dakotas – you’ll recall that South Dakota recently declined to legalize hemp.

See you next week!

 

While it has been a challenge for employers to keep up with the explosion of medical and recreational marijuana laws spreading across the nation, employers have taken some comfort in that most of these states still grant employers the right to maintain a drug-free workplace and take action against those who test positive for marijuana, including rejecting job applicants testing positive for drugs. Yet, the tide seems to be shifting, with more courts granting pot smokers certain rights and finding that employers are required to comply with federal and state disability laws when confronted with medical marijuana users. Now it seems some jurisdictions are stepping in and granting certain employment protections to off-duty marijuana users. Continue Reading New York City Bans Pre-Employment Marijuana Tests

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

Starting our coverage on the federal level, the Department of Veterans Affairs is opposing three bills that would facilitate veteran access to medical marijuana in states where it is legal.  We last wrote about the “Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act” in Week in Weed here.  Also, 30 members of Congress have asked for more federal research into medical marijuana.

In the banking realm, 33 state attorneys general (along with AGs from four territories and the District of Columbia) have signed on to a letter to Congressional leaders in favor of cannabis banking reform.  Eight of the signatories are Republican.

Our look at state activity begins in Illinois this week, as Governor Pritzker has proposed a marijuana legalization plan.  The plan would include retail sales, expungement of previous convictions and place an emphasis on social equity.

Meanwhile, a legalization bill has passed the Connecticut House Finance Committee.  It is now headed to the full House floor.

Staying on the East Coast, Vermont and the District of Columbia have legal recreational marijuana, but neither jurisdiction permits the sale of the drug.  Both of them are trying to change that.  In the District, Mayor Muriel Bowser (who joins the “Politicians Now In Favor of Legalized Marijuana” Club) has proposed a cannabis sales program.  Note that the Mayor is not seeking to market to tourists.  In Vermont, the State Senate passed a bill setting up a marketplace a while ago, it’s now passed the House Government Operations Committee.  It’s got to go through another committee and then the full House, before heading to the Governor’s office.  Note that the Governor is not enthusiastic about this idea, so it may come to nothing.

In Texas, another piece of legislation to increase the number of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana has been passed by the state House and is on the way to the state Senate.

One question that comes up often in the cannabis sphere is how helpful marijuana could be in alleviating the opioid crisis.  Two states have taken opposite views.  In Rhode Island, the Health Department has declined to add opioid dependency to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.  On the other hand, in Colorado, legislators have recently approved a bill that would allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids.

And finally, if you’ve ever thought that the only thing better than an Oreo cookie would be a CBD-infused Oreo cookie, you may be in luck.

See you next week!

Marijuana is estimated to be a $10 billion industry and rapidly growing. Almost all of it is conducted in cash. Although legal in thirty three states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Accordingly, financial institutions that handle proceeds from a transaction involving the distribution, manufacture or sale of marijuana would be handling illegal proceeds in violation of both federal money laundering statutes and banking regulations that prohibit such institutions from participating in any transaction or engaging in any relationship involving illegal proceeds. Continue Reading Will Banks be Able to Play it SAFE with Marijuana Related Businesses?

Regular readers will recall that in March we blogged about cannabis-related trademarks.  We now have an update:

On May 2, 2019, the USPTO distributed an Examination Guide updating their practices after passage of the 2018 Farm Bill on December 20, 2018. The Farm Bill removes “hemp” from the definition of “marijuana” in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), so now hemp-based products, like CBD, with less than 0.3% THC are no longer controlled substances. Accordingly, for applications filed after December 20, 2018, the USPTO will not refuse applications on the basis of the goods being unlawful under federal law if the application covers hemp-related goods and services now legal under the CSA. If an application filed before December 20, 2018 for the applicable goods was refused but the application is still pending, the USPTO will allow the applicant to amend its filing date. Applicants should also note that some CBD products that are undergoing FDA testing are still unlawful under the CSA, and therefore applications covering those types of goods will still be refused. If these guidelines apply to you, you can find more information in the Examination Guide from the USPTO, available at the link above.

 

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

There were several interesting developments this week on the federal level.  We’ll start off with the news that the Senate may not take up the issue of banking in the marijuana industry.  Sen. Mike Crapo (R. Idaho) won’t commit to holding hearings on the SAFE Banking Act, which is currently under consideration in the House.

In other federal news, a marijuana patent suit will proceed towards a jury trial, after a judge denied a motion to dismiss.  And a marijuana staffing agency employee may not use bankruptcy protection because her firm has ties to the cannabis industry.  Note: the firm does not “touch the plant”; they merely provide a service to those who do.

So what’s been happening in the world of hemp, marijuana’s less controversial cousin, since the Farm Bill de-scheduled it?  Glad you asked, and the answer is quite a bit.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released guidelines for importing hemp seeds.  Imports are fine, so long as the plants produced will contain less than .3% THC.

There’s also been lots of activity on the state level, as many jurisdictions have moved to legalize hemp.  Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana and Hawaii all moved in the direction of allowing the product.  South Dakota, however, seems unlikely to join their number any time soon.

If you’re interested in an in-depth look at marijuana in Illinois, have a look at this series of articles from the University of Illinois and NPR Illinois.

In states that have already legalized recreational cannabis, the new trend is to allow home delivery.  Colorado and Massachusetts are both close to approving the service.  If we can have everything else brought directly to our doors, why should marijuana be any different?

And finally, a marijuana investor recently gave Harvard and MIT $9M for the study of cannabinoids.  Clearly, the presence of cannabis on campus has changed…

See you next week!

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill on April 17, entitled Georgia’s Hope Act (HB 324), allowing in-state production and sale of marijuana oil for medical use. Before this bill, Georgia only allowed citizens with a narrow list of specific medical conditions to possess cannabis oil with less than five percent THC, but those patients had to cross state lines or purchase the oil by mail. Often the process of buying the oil was prohibitive and the patients could not obtain the oil, even if they had permission to use or possess it. The current count of patients on the registry allowed to own low-THC oil is less than 10,000. Some believe this is a low number compared to the number of eligible citizens, and that many people have not bothered to register because obtaining the drug is too difficult. The number of registrants is predicted to rise once the oil can be purchased in-state.

The bill is not an open door for producers, however. Georgia will convene a seven-member board to oversee the program, and the state will only grant up to six growing licenses to private companies. The bill also designates growing licenses for the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University. Georgia legislators made efforts to be inclusive by requiring that medical marijuana producers should include at least 20 percent “minority, women, and veteran owned business” as licensees and partners of any business licensed to cultivate.

In addition to the lift on the ban of production of cannabis oil, Georgia’s Hope Act allows pharmacists to sell the medical cannabis oil to authorized patients if the pharmacy is licensed by the State Pharmacy Board.

Kemp went to great lengths to emphasize that this bill is not part of a “slippery slope” toward allowing recreational use of marijuana in Georgia.

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

Our first stop this week is Alabama, where the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would revamp the state’s medical marijuana program.  This is only a preliminary step on the road to passage, of course; both chambers must approve the legislation and the governor must sign it for the measure to become law.

Another state looking at the idea of increasing its medical marijuana program is Texas.  A new array of conditions would qualify a patient to obtain CBD oil.

In Louisiana meanwhile, sales of medical cannabis could begin as early as next month.  And LSU’s Manship School of of Mass Communications reports a new survey shows 55% of state residents support legalizing recreational marijuana.

In New England, Vermont’s move towards legalizing adult-use sales has hit a snag.  The governor is of the opinion that he should have more power over the panel charged with regulating the industry.

Even once a state has legalized recreational sales, that doesn’t mean legal issues don’t crop up.  In California, illegal dispensaries are a problem, and Los Angeles has filed its first civil suit.

So what’s happening on the federal level?  You may recall from an earlier column that the Mayor of Denver expressed concern about immigrants in the marijuana industry being denied citizenship.  Apparently, he was right to be concerned.  U.S.C.I.S. just released new guidance stating that those involved in the cannabis industry fail to show “good moral character.”

One person who’s optimistic about marijuana’s chances on the federal level is Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Or.).  A long time supporter of legal cannabis, Blumenauer predicts that the SAFE Act will pass the House and that Congress will look at re-scheduling cannabis this year.

And the latest in our “Where Do the Candidates Stand on Marijuana” update is Newsweek’s rundown of all the current candidates’ positions.  Of course, former Vice President Biden’s entry into the race means they’ll have to issue an update.

Finally, how do you know something has moved from the shadows to the mainstream?  When corporations start cashing in on it.

That’s all for this week – see you next Friday.

Last month, a Hawaii federal district court judge denied an employer’s motion to dismiss an applicant’s claim for disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) where the employer merely assumed that an applicant who admitted to having a medical marijuana card was a current marijuana user and would fail a drug test.   Continue Reading Possession of a Medical Marijuana Card Doesn’t Necessarily Prove Current Drug Use

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

Beginning our coverage in Texas, the city of Dallas will no longer be prosecuting low-level first time cannabis offenders.  And any pending cases will be dismissed.

Moving on to Georgia, we have an update on our earlier coverage.  The Governor has signed a bill lifting the ban on medical marijuana cultivation.

The news for proponents of medical cannabis in Tennessee was not so rosy.  Three bills were defeated in the legislature there.

But supporters of medical marijuana can take heart at news from Montana, where the House passed a bill that would ease restrictions on patients.  The bill now moves to the Senate.

And here’s the latest in our series, “Politicians Now Supporting Marijuana.”  Although former Vermont governor, Howard Dean, had previously opposed legalizing cannabis, he’s now a fan.  Joining the board of a cannabis company can have that effect.

Turning our attention to the federal government, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin recently showed support for a fix to the issue of cannabis (lack of) banking.  Regular readers will doubtless recall that Attorney General Barr expressed a similar view last week.  One more cabinet member, and it’s a thing!

As if to prove the need for banking reform,  a Florida bank has cut ties with a medical marijuana business association.   The association’s executive director predicts the bank will solicit their business in future, should the laws change.

Rep. Greg Steube (R. Fla.) introduced a bill that would allow veterans to use marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of losing their benefits.  The “Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act” has bipartisan support.

And finally, we have two articles on the “lighter” side of the marijuana news.  First, Carl’s Jr. will be offering a CBD burger on 4/20.  I’m hoping they’ll call it a “Devil’s Lettuce” burger. And in news about our neighbor to the north, has legalization of cannabis in Canada made it, well, boring?

That’s it for this week; see you next Friday!