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

When it comes to legalization news, Oklahoma is the state that keeps on giving.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday signed into place strict emergency rules for medical marijuana that pot advocates say are intentionally aimed at delaying the voter-approved use of medicinal cannabis.

Two pro-cannabis group filed lawsuits in Oklahoma accusing regulators of improperly imposing rules aimed at curbing the growth of the state’s MMJ industry.

Turning our attention further west, California has released proposed cannabis regulations.

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) released a proposal on Friday, July 13 outlining permanent cannabis industry regulations for the state.

Get your comments in now or forever hold your peace.

And those regulations are more than just red tape.  They have a real impact on the marketing and sale of cannabis.  What they don’t always do is make a lot of sense.

These unusual restrictions on legal marijuana show that the U.S. cannabis industry has a long way to go before becoming fully accepted.

As previously reported, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana laws dictate that an employer cannot discriminate against a person in hiring or termination, or otherwise penalize a person due to the person’s status as a medical marijuana holder or as a result of a positive drug test. So now that Oklahoma has gone green and created such limitations on employers, how will that impact employer drug testing policies?

To put it bluntly, nothing in the new law seems to specifically prevent or impact the general testing statute which allows for random testing. As an initial matter, to have any protections under the new law, an employee needs to have a medical marijuana license; thus, without the license employees are not protected.

Second, while the law states that an employee cannot be terminated simply because he or she possesses a medical marijuana card or because he or she tests positive for marijuana in a drug screen, the law does not prevent employers from taking into consideration other factors such as any negligent work behavior or bad performance, any injuries the employee has caused in the workplace, or what type of work is being performed. With that said, employers who choose to follow this path, are in for a hazy ride. If employers refuse to hire an applicant or choose to terminate or otherwise penalize a pot-licensed employee, the employer puts itself in the difficult position of having to prove that the employer is not relying solely on the test results when making employment decisions.

Third, as previously reported, while the new law provides a carve out for employers – an employer may take action against an employee if it stands to lose a monetary or licensing benefit as a result of employee usage, if federal laws prohibit use of drugs (“DOT”), and if the license holder “uses” or “possesses” marijuana while at work or during hours of employment – the challenge with this statute and other similar ones is proving “use” while at work. Use is difficult to prove because drug tests do not show when employees use marijuana or are under the influence of marijuana. It’s possible that a drug test could show up positive but be as a result of an employee’s off-duty use of marijuana.

Lastly, nothing in the law discusses whether a collective bargaining agreement may waive any rights in the new law. The Oklahoma general testing law does expressly state that any CBA must have basic protections. However, it is still unclear whether a Union can waive the protections in the law in a CBA.

Accordingly, while nothing in the new law seems to prevent or impact the general testing statute, employers should review their drug-testing policies to ensure compliance with the new laws. And of course, marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law—so there may be potential preemption issues when it comes to testing.

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

Last week, we focused on Vermont’s legalization of recreational marijuana; this week we (re)turn our attention to Oklahoma.

Cultivators selected for Oklahoma’s emerging medical marijuana industry may face a challenge in starting up operations, particularly when it comes to obtaining seed.

Hot on the heels of Oklahoma’s successful medical cannabis vote, advocates in the state are collecting signatures to put adult-use legalization on the November ballot, Oklahoma’s News 4 reports.

In other state cannabis legalization news, you may recall the roller coaster ride of marijuana in Maine.  Here’s the latest twist in the story.

Governor LePage has lost this battle.

Banking for the cannabis industry is a major problem, as regular readers of this blog know.  Legislators on both the state and federal level are trying to change that.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) to provide guidance to support the safe and sound provision of banking services for medical marijuana and industrial hemp businesses.

For financial institutions interested in banking state-legal marijuana businesses, 2018 has been a rollercoaster.  See our take on the STATES act here.

And in case you feel the need to keep up with the new names for marijuana, the DEA has got your back.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has updated its list of slang terms for 2018, with some amusing results.

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

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has recently introduced legislation that would decriminalize the use of marijuana on the federal level.

Although it would not legalize marijuana, Sen. Chuck Schumer introduces bill to federally decriminalize marijuana by re-classifying it.

The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act; however, the federal government would maintain the authority to prevent cannabis trafficking from legal states to non-legal states.

Vermont is the most recent state to allow legal use of marijuana for recreational purposes; it’s the first to do so via the ballot box.

Vermont is the ninth state in the U.S. to legalize cannabis for recreational use and also the first state in the country to do so through its legislature.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Vermont, the ninth state to legalize it.

According to the CDC, use of tobacco is on the decline in the United States.  One of the world’s major tobacco firms is diversifying into cannabis.

Snoop Dogg, Sir Patrick Stewart and Imperial Brands: all vaguely in the same news story, thanks to a deal announced late Wednesday that an analyst called the “most significant” attempt by Big Tobacco to gain exposure to the marijuana industry.

But it’s not just Big Tobacco that’s interested; beer companies are jumping into the marketplace as well.

Some of the big dogs of the brewing world are getting into the business of creating cannabis-infused beers.

On June 25, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol), the first marijuana derived drug for use in the United States, to treat two rare forms of epilepsy. This decision for the FDA could have sweeping effects for the marijuana industry. While the FDA has previously approved drugs comprising synthetic (manufactured) cannabinoids, this is the first FDA approved drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana. Even with FDA approval, further action is required before Epidiolex can enter the market in the United States.

Continue Reading FDA Approves First Marijuana-Based Drug to Treat Epilepsy

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

It was a big news week, with Oklahoma voters allowing medical marijuana, and movements on the federal level as well.

First, a look at the Oklahoma vote:

‘I respect the will of the voters in any question placed before them to determine the direction of our state,’ says Oklahoma governor.

Voters on Tuesday in Oklahoma — Oklahoma! — became the latest in the US to approve broad access to marijuana when they approved one of the most permissive medical marijuana initiatives in the country.

Information that patients, growers and sellers need to apply for medical marijuana licenses will be available online by July 26, state Health Department officials said Wednesday.

See yesterday’s TBT post for more details on the law itself.

On the federal level, the FDA approved a drug derived from cannabis.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a CBD drug – a landmark decision that will trigger the health agency to seek rescheduling from the DEA.

U.S. health regulators on Monday approved the first prescription drug made from marijuana, a milestone that could spur more research into a drug that remains illegal under federal law, despite growing legalization for recreational and medical use.

In other federal news, the Senate has approved medical marijuana protections for veterans, but the House still needs to sign on.

U.S. military veterans would be allowed to receive recommendations for medical marijuana from government doctors under legislation approved by the Senate on Monday.

And finally, you may want to consider the possibility that legal marijuana in Canada may be a gateway to other Canadian behaviors.

The Late Show host says newly legalized Canadian marijuana is a gateway drug to other Canadian behaviors.

Going in to this election, the possession and use of medical marijuana was illegal in Oklahoma. However, arguments against cannabis legalization have now gone up in smoke. The Oklahoma voters have spoken by enacting State Question (SQ) 788, which now makes it legal to grow, sell, and use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Under the law, adults with a medical marijuana license would be authorized to, among other things, possess up to three ounces of marijuana on their person, six flowering plants, seventy two ounces of edibles, and one ounce of concentrated marijuana derived from the plant. SQ 788 will go into effect 30 days from June 26, 2018. Continue Reading Oklahoma Creates a Buzz by Legalizing Medical Marijuana

Amidst a public disagreement between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), announced introduction of a bipartisan bill to protect states with pot-friendly laws against federal prosecution. The bill, introduced on June 7, 2018 and called the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act” or the “STATES Act”  proposes to protect state cannabis industries from the ire of federal drug enforcement authorities. A companion bill also has been introduced in the House.  The full text of the Senate bill, S. 3032, is available here, and the corresponding House bill, H.R. 6043, is available here. Continue Reading Will President Trump Support a Bipartisan Congressional Effort to Protect State Marijuana Laws?

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

The big news this week comes from north of the border, as Canada moves one step closer to cannabis legalization.

In a 52-29 vote on Tuesday afternoon, the Senate advanced bill C-45 for the last time, accepting changes put forward in the House of Commons and sending the bill onwards for Royal Assent.

Recreational marijuana use will soon be legal in Canada after the Senate passed a “historic” bill on Tuesday with a vote of 52-29.

But there was also some news here in the U.S., as New York City changes the way it will handle people smoking marijuana in public and New York State is looking at legalizing recreational use.

By September 1st, the majority of New Yorkers found smoking in public to receive criminal summonses which will help reduce marijuana arrests by about 10,000 per year.

A broad turnaround on the issue by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo could pave the way for New York to join a roster of states that have already legalized the drug, including California and Colorado.

And in our continuing look at politicians who support marijuana, we turn our attention to Texas.

Texas Republicans have come out in support of marijuana decriminalization in their official party platform.

 

On June 14, 2018, the Vermont Attorney General released its “Guide to Vermont’s Laws on Marijuana in the Workplace,” which can be found here. The Guide is aimed at assisting Vermont employers in navigating the state’s new recreational marijuana law, although it also addresses the state’s medical marijuana law, disability discrimination law, and drug testing law. Continue Reading Vermont Attorney General Releases “Marijuana in the Workplace” Guidance