On January 17, 2020, Hawaii Senators Rosalyn Baker (D) and Brian Taniguchi (D) introduced Senate Bill 2543, which proposes to provide employment protections to job applicants and employees who use medical cannabis. If enacted, Hawaii would join the growing number of states to pass similar laws.

Specifically, the most recent version of the bill provides that unless a failure to do so would cause the employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under a contract or federal law, it would be unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, other than contained in a collective bargaining agreement, if the discrimination is based upon either:

  • the person’s status as a cardholder; or
  • a registered qualifying patient’s positive drug test for cannabis components or metabolites, unless the registered qualifying patient was impaired by cannabis during the hours of employment or in a “potentially dangerous occupation.”

If enacted, the law would allow an employer to use a fit for duty test as a risk-based assessment tool for a registered qualifying patient, but only in “potentially dangerous occupations,” a term the bill does not define.

The current version of the bill contains numerous carve-outs, stating that it will not apply to:

  • Law enforcement officers in the state or counties or employees of a state correctional facility;
  • Firefighters employed by the state or counties;
  • Water safety officers, lifeguards, swimming instructors, or other employees of the state or counties responsible for the safety of the public at swimming pools or on beaches;
  • Employees authorized to carry or use, or both, firearms on the job;
  • Emergency medical services employees of the state or counties;
  • Employees who administer or may administer controlled substances or other drugs to patients, whether in hospitals, nursing homes, or in emergency situations such as would be encountered by emergency medical services personnel;
  • Employees who work with children, the elderly, or other vulnerable populations;
  • Civil defense emergency management personnel; and
  • Employees who operate or are in physical control of any of the following:

(1)        Any combination of vehicles that have a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 26,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit or units with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds, whichever is greater;

(2)        Any single vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight that does not exceed 10,000 pounds;

(3)        Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of class A or class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is transporting material that has been designated as hazardous under title 49 U.S.C. section 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 C.F.R. part 172, or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 C.F.R. part 73;

(4)        Public utilities, such as the electrical power grid or the water source;

(5)        Machinery or power equipment; or

(6)        A motor vehicle.

Employers with operations in Hawaii should closely monitor the bill’s movement through the state legislature. If enacted, the law will join the growing list of states and localities enacting specific laws that provide clear employment protections to cannabis users.

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

The news is mostly happening in the states this week. Oklahoma is having some medical marijuana issues.  Massachusetts recreational shops reopened.  Virginia decriminalized marijuana.  Ohio may not put cannabis on the ballot this November.  In federal news, the marijuana banking provisions in the latest relief bill may not be dead on arrival.  And you can now buy face masks made out of hemp.

oklahoma

Governor Stitt vetoed medical marijuana reform legislation late last week, and the legislature decided not to override that veto.  The bill would have allowed deliveries to patients and prevented the Department of Health from sharing patient information with other agencies.  The bill had bipartisan support, but it lacked the votes for an override.

massachusetts

It wouldn’t be “The Week in Weed” without a look at Massachusetts.  As we all know, the state allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to remain open during the pandemic, but recreational shops were forced to close.  Now, those shops have reopened.  Customers order online and pickup curbside, and the demand is intense.  So if you need to buy cannabis in Massachusetts, bring your patience with you.

virginia

Regular readers will recall that we reported last month on Virginia decriminalization.  And yet, we are reporting on it again.  Governor Northam signed the original bill in April, with amendments.  Those amendments went back to the legislature for a vote, and now the governor has signed the bill again.  If you’re as baffled by this system as I am, have a look at this diagram from the University of Virginia.

ohio

It’s been a roller coaster ride for ballot measures in Ohio recently.  Proponents of decriminalizing marijuana won more time and the right to use e-signatures at the federal district court.  Their hopes were dashed by the Sixth Circuit, which stayed the lower court order, pending appeal.  So now the original deadline of July 1 remains, and e-signatures are not allowed.  I suspect we’ve not heard the last of this – further bulletins as events warrant.

banking

We expressed some doubt last week as to the success of the SAFE Banking provisions in the latest pandemic relief bill.  Saphira Galoob, executive director of the National Cannabis Roundtable, is more optimistic.  Her reasons?  Cannabis banking’s strong bipartisan support and the view that it’s both a public safety issue and an economic boost.

and finally

If you’re looking for face masks (and who isn’t?), have a look at some hemp products.  Comfortable and sustainable, they just need a few more stylish designs.

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

The California State Bar Ethics Committee recently adopted Opinion No. 2020-202, which concludes that attorneys may ethically advise clients regarding compliance with California’s cannabis laws and assist them with conduct permitted under state law, despite the fact that the client’s conduct may be prohibited under federal law.

Regarding the scope of advice and assistance, the opinion states that such advice and assistance “may include the provision of legal services to the client that facilitate the operation of a business that is lawful under California law.” Examples of permitted legal services include “incorporation of a business, tax advice, employment advice, contractual arrangements, and other actions necessary to the lawful operation of the business under California law.”

Attorneys providing such legal services must inform the client of the federal-state conflict of laws, including the potential for criminal liability and the penalties that could be associated with a violation of federal law. Attorneys must not advise or assist in concealing or evading prosecution for such violations. The opinion makes clear that attorneys must also advise the client of other potential impacts upon the attorney-client relationship, including on the issue of privilege.

The ethics of advising cannabis clients comes down to informing such clients of potential federal liability but in no circumstances assisting them circumvent enforcement of federal laws. The opinion emphasizes its advisory nature, highlighting that it is non-binding upon the courts, the State Bar of California, its Board of Trustees, any persons or tribunals charged with regulatory responsibilities, or any licensee of the State Bar.

The opinion can be found here.

Hemp production, unlike much of the farming industry, has not declined due to COVID-19.  Meanwhile, certain CBD companies have wasted no time in making unsubstantiated claims related to COVID-19.  In turn, FDA and FTC enforcement has ramped up.

As the pandemic rages on, the CBD industry continues to grow as it did before the crisis, and regulatory agencies are becoming increasingly active in overseeing the burgeoning industry.  Over the course of the past eight weeks of quarantine, hemp production has remained relatively constant, and certain CBD companies have attempted to leverage the current crisis in their marketing materials, to their peril.  In response, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) continue to aggressively monitor the marketplace and have taken swift enforcement action against those making false or unsubstantiated claims.

Hemp Production Remains Relatively Unscathed, Supported by Demand and Federal Programs

With the legalization of Hemp by the 2018 Farm Bill,[1] hemp production has remained steady relative to the rest of the farming world.[2]  Hemp production buoyance may be attributed to strong demand, which has enabled some hemp businesses to do better in this crisis than they did before the pandemic.[3]  Hemp growers, like other farmers, are further supported by federal programs.  The USDA recently announced the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which provides $16 billion aimed at aiding farmers.  Its funding is sourced from the CARES Act as well as the Credit Commodity Corporation.  Separately, hemp farmers are also able to obtain assistance enabled by the $2 trillion CARES Act from the Small Business Administration.

CBD Enforcement Activity

With a new crisis, comes new opportunity – but where opportunity is exploited, enforcement actions follow.  Within the past two months, both the FTC and FDA have taken steps to demonstrate to the public their increasing aggressiveness to clamp down on illegally marketed and unsubstantiated products.

Statements from FDA

Confusion over COVID-19 and the best means to containing the outbreak still seem very much up in the air.  However, enforcement, as it relates to CBD products and their claimed medicinal effects on COVID-19, is becoming increasingly apparent to industry watchers.  First, in early March 2020, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn issued a statement updating the public on the agency’s work.  In his statement, Commissioner Hahn noted that the FDA was working on: 1) continuing to educate the public on the risks of CBD; 2) seeking reliable data on the safety and benefits of CBD, including opening the public docket on the matter; and 3) monitoring the marketplace for the sale and marketing of unapproved drugs.  To that end, the FDA followed up with another piece of public guidance in late April, informing the public that there are currently no approved treatments for COVID-19.  The April guidance does not explicitly call out CBD as ineffective or otherwise, but it does demonstrate that the FDA is actively monitoring the market for fraudulent products.

Joint Warning Letters

Just like other entities seeking to capitalize on COVID-19 fears, NeuroXPF, a CBD company based in Nevada, has marketed its products to treat or prevent COVID-19 on its social media accounts and website.  NeuroXPF claimed, among other things, that its product could both prevent, by boosting the user’s immune system, and help fight off a COVID-19 infection.   In response, on March 31, 2020 the FDA and FTC issued a joint warning letter asserting that NeuroXPF’s products are: 1) unapproved drugs sold in violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act); 2) that the products are misbranded; and 3) that the claims are in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act) because they are unsubstantiated (i.e., not backed by competent and reliable scientific evidence).  Notably, the letter sets a 48-hour deadline for the company to respond with the actions it has taken to address the FTC and FDA’s concerns.  The response deadline is striking because the response time has been significantly reduced — previous warning letters typically allotted 15 days for responses.[4]

Similarly, on May 7, 2020, the FTC and FDA also issued a warning letter containing similar allegations to AgroTerra.  Specifically, AgroTerra claimed that its CBD products can help relieve stress, and therefore can help boost the user’s immune system to fight off COVID-19.  The FTC and FDA also noted that AgroTerra is an Amazon Associate Program participant and as such, it can earn commissions by promoting the sale of certain products “with claims on your website representing or implying that the products can mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people.”  Much like in their earlier letter to NeuroXPF, the FTC and FDA are requiring prompt attention – Agroterra has only 48 hours to respond.

Federal Court Litigation

Lastly, the FTC has filed a complaint against Marc Ching, also doing business as Whole Leaf Organics, in April of 2020 for making false claims.  Notably, this marks the FTC’s first lawsuit involving COVID-19 related claims.  It also further showcases the severity of inaction to lesser forms of enforcement.  Whole Leaf Organics was previously cited by the FTC in late 2019 for making unsubstantiated claims that its products could treat cancer.  The defendant never took action in response to the FTC’s warnings and later began marketing his product as a possible treatment for COVID-19.  Consequently, the FTC has filed a complaint alleging that Mr. Ching has made false and unsubstantiated claims that his product treats or otherwise prevents COVID-19 and cancer.

The foregoing shows the perils faced by companies who are unaware of or willingly ignore regulatory guidance.  Seyfarth Shaw’s Cannabis and Products Liability Groups will continue to monitor and report on market developments.  Seyfarth is uniquely positioned to assist companies navigate the complex regulatory regimes established by the FTC and FDA.

[1] https://www.blunttruthlaw.com/2019/02/c-is-for/.

[2] https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/04/hemp-farmers-going-full-force-despite-pandemic-1923242 (subscription required).

[3] https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-agriculture/2020/04/27/usda-seen-as-mia-as-farmers-dumped-crops-787153.

[4] See, e.g., https://www.blunttruthlaw.com/2019/11/fda-and-ftc-issue-joint-warning-letter-for-cbd-products-and-senator-schumer-applies-pressure-on-fda-to-regulate-cbd/.

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

The news getting the most attention this week is the reopening of Massachusetts’ recreational marijuana shops, scheduled for May 25.  Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) criticized the cannabis banking provisions in the latest stimulus bill, while state Attorneys General wrote a letter supporting them.  Arizona and Nebraska legalization efforts are hit by the pandemic.  And finally, you can now buy hemp at Petsmart.

massachusetts

As everyone knows, when COVID-19 hit, Massachusetts allowed medical dispensaries to remain open.  Recreational shops, however, had to close.  Now that the state is looking at a phase one reopening,  those shops would be able to offer curbside pickup, beginning on Monday, May 25.  Any spike in cases could cause a new shutdown.

cannabis banking

The marijuana industry was optimistic about the inclusion of the SAFE Banking Act in the HEROES bill last week.  This week, there’s rain on that parade.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly stated his strong opposition to the measure.  Although much of his criticism centers around a call for research into women and minority-owned businesses, it seems unlikely that cannabis banking will be part of any final legislation.

state attorneys general

Not everyone is on McConnell’s side in this matter.  Attorneys General from 34 states and territories sent a letter to Congressional leadership this week, detailing their support for cannabis banking.  Notably, the state of Kentucky was not among the signatories.  Among their concerns is the use of cash, which could place consumers and business owners in greater risk of exposure to the virus.

arizona

The Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative was deal a severe blow this week.  The state Supreme Court ruled that all signatures for ballot initiatives must be collected in person.  The group hoped to use e-signatures, due to COVID-19.

nebraska

Supporters of medical cannabis in Nebraska are also dealing with safety concerns.  They are practicing social distancing while collecting signatures in person.  They need 125,000 signatures before July 2.  Perhaps they could provide some pointers to their counterparts in Arizona.

and finally

If Rover or Spot is feeling his years, you can now purchase CBD products at PetSmart in several states.  For now, the hemp extract is available in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon, and Tennessee, but there are plans to expand by the summer.

Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll 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, more jurisdictions are stepping in and granting certain employment protections to off-duty marijuana users.

Effective May 10, 2020, it is considered an unlawful discriminatory practice in New York City for an employer, labor organization, or employment agency to require a job applicant to submit to a marijuana test as a condition of employment. By way of background, on April 9, 2019, the New York City Council passed (by a 41-4 vote) a bill (Intro. No. 1445-A) banning such testing. Because Mayor Bill de Blasio did not sign or veto the bill within 30 days of its passage, it became law on May 10, 2019.

The provisions of the law do not apply to people applying to work in the following positions:

  • positions in law enforcement;
  • certain construction jobs (as defined in the law);
  • any position requiring a commercial driver’s license;
  • positions requiring the supervision or care of children, medical patients, or vulnerable persons (as defined in the law); and
  • positions with the “potential to significantly impact the health or safety of employees or members of the public,” as determined by rules promulgated by the City.

The provisions of the law also do not apply to drug testing required pursuant to:

  • Department of Transportation (Part 40) or state or local drug testing regulations;
  • federal contracts between the federal government and an employer or any grant of federal assistance from the federal government to an employer that mandates drug testing;
  • any federal or state statute, regulation, or order that requires drug testing of prospective employees for purposes of safety or security; and
  • any applicants whose prospective employer is a party to a valid collective bargaining agreement that specifically addresses the pre-employment drug testing of the applicants.

On April 16, 2020, the New York City Commission on Human Rights held a hearing to consider proposed rules to clarify certain exceptions.

Now more than ever, employers in all jurisdictions should review their existing drug testing or substance abuse policies and determine how best to address any applicant or employee positive test result for marijuana. In jurisdictions like New York City and Nevada, which we previously reported here has a law that prohibits most employers from considering a pre-employment positive marijuana test result, employers may also need to consider working with their drug testing vendors and Medical Review Officers to ensure that job applicants are not tested for marijuana or that such tests are not reported in the final test result. As mentioned, more states are enacting medical and recreational marijuana laws and courts have issued employee-friendly decisions addressing existing laws, which makes it particularly important for employers to stay ahead of this evolving area of the law.

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 is that cannabis banking is included in the latest federal relief bill.  SBA funds, however, are not.  There’s also lots of state news.  We’ve got an update on the latest Montana legalization developments.  Maine made changes to their marijuana program. Missouri is having issues with their medical marijuana licensing.  Minnesota introduced a legalization bill and of course, there’s more news from Massachusetts.  So let’s get started.

cannabis banking

The latest proposal submitted by House Democrats, entitled the HEROES Act, includes a provision that would allow “…access to financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers…”  The language is from the SAFE Banking Act passed by the House last year.  Whether the Senate will retain this language, considering that they have taken no action on the SAFE Banking Act, is not certain.  Groups opposing marijuana legalization said the measure “makes no sense.”

sba loans

The news on access to loans and other support from the Small Business Administration was less rosy.  Although NORML and other advocacy groups asked that state-legal marijuana businesses gain access to this relief, that language did not make it into the legislation.

marijuana research

We reported last week on the DOJ’s memo finding that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s cannabis research program is non-compliant with international drug laws. The National Cannabis Industry Association would like to get the DEA out of research entirely, and state-level research could be a substitute for the federal program.

montana update

Following up on last week’s news, New Approach Montana has begun collecting signatures to put legalization on the November ballot.  The group promises to follow safety protocols, so they can muster the support they need, without risking anyone’s health.

maine licensing

The course of adult-use cannabis in Maine has not run smooth.  Although the legislature finally overrode the governor’s veto to enact legalization in 2018, dispensaries are still not open.  Local approvals have been slowed by the coronavirus, and state regulators will only open the program when enough stores are available to meet the expected demand.  In other Maine news, the state recently removed its four-year residency requirement to obtain a license.

missouri licensing

Legislators are considering lifting the cap on medical marijuana licenses in the state.  If passed, any business that meets the state’s minimum requirements would receive a license.  This move comes amidst an investigation into the medical marijuana program.

minnesota legalization proposal

House of Representatives Majority Leader Ryan Winkler introduced a bill this week that would legalize adult-use marijuana in the state.  The bill would establish an Office of Social Equity to distribute grants to promote economic opportunity and community stability.

massachusetts news

It seems as if Massachusetts cannabis just can’t stay out of the news lately.  You will recall that medical marijuana dispensaries are essential businesses and allowed to remain open.  You will also recall that recreational stores were forced to close.  A group of industry representatives met with Governor Baker’s reopening advisory board earlier this week to plead their case for reopening.  No word yet on any change in policy.

and finally

Finding certain paper products and cleaning supplies has been a challenge for many of us during this pandemic.  Georgia-Pacific and Canadian company Bast Fibre Technologies are hoping to bring hemp toilet paper and cleaning wipes to store shelves.

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

When we all sheltered in place in mid-March, social media accounts everywhere reflexively joked how marijuana use was about to skyrocket like wine consumption and On Demand streaming. True to form, recreational marijuana retailers in LA and several markets in the US where stores remained open saw an immediate spike in sales; there was a 159% increase in California over the same time period in 2019. (And this author has since plowed through Ozark, The Wire, and Succession.)

But while these cannabis retailers may be dealing with lines wrapping around the block, they, and the vendor companies they rely on, are also dealing with economic realities and legal hurdles that pre-existed the pandemic – and have arisen from it. Undoubtedly, excluding US Cannabis companies from accessing federal Covid relief funds is the most glaring and potent new issue in an industry that was already suffering from a surprising down market in 2019, while most other sectors were thriving. (Note that whereas U.S. Cannabis companies are not eligible for the recent federal relief funds, such companies in Canada have been made eligible.)

Sure, the the challenges presented by various state and local regulatory requirements and employment restrictions have always been there. But when stores are forced to close or modify without the federal relief provided to others, and can’t access private capital during an economic disaster, that poses a particular set of problems in an industry that has no bankruptcy protections in accordance with US Federal law.

While relief may not yet be on the way from the federal level, certain states and cities are beginning to take action or consider taking action on the local level – with the likes of Massachusetts debating the enactment of a state-level equivalent of the PPP that would extend loans to the cannabis industry.

But despite all of these hurdles, there still is a line around the block for companies to enter a market that already employs more people in the US now (211,000) than the coal industry. Whether this line is moving, even in the most progressive of cities and states, is yet another issue that is made even more complicated by the pandemic and everything around it.

Case in point, the City of Los Angeles, which allowed its cannabis retailers to remain open in-full during the past few weeks (in contrast to cities in the Bay Area, who initially only permitted drive-by service for cannabis retailers). Despite being one of the more forward-thinking cities for recreational marijuana, LA had already put its next licensing round of 100 social equity permits on hold back in October of 2019.

Now, since the pandemic has refocused attention and presented economic and other crises for the City and its government officials, that licensing round remains on hold – with no hint as to when it will be revisited. This not only pushes back the 100 licenses that are pending, but the other 602 (and counting) applicants who were not among the first 100. In a recent article in the Marijuana Business Daily, a spokesperson for the LA Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) was quoted as saying “We’re at the mercy of the mayor and City Council with regard to a lot of what we do.”

In the meantime, while the shutdowns continue on even through the reopening of the economy, the DCR provided policy recommendations on April 10 to the LA City Council designed to improve permitting procedures and the social equity program moving forward. These recommendations include fast-tracking for the 100 pending retail license winners from last fall, allowing the other 602 applicants to be first in line for other license types such as manufacturing, distribution and delivery, and switching from a first-come-first serve to a lottery going forward.

However, these recommendations must first be adopted by the City Council, and as of yet, there is no indication that the issue has been scheduled for a hearing. Accordingly, many of the 100 retail “winners” from last fall sit with empty storefronts that have been leased but cannot be used. According to the Cannabis Equity Retailer Association, the losses of only 60 of those license winners adds up to over $1.2 million per month in real estate payments for shops that remain unopened.

This could present interesting arguments around force majeure, and whether the ongoing delays in licensing are caused by the pandemic and the government’s response to it.  The cannabis industry was already one of the first industries to see actions to declare contracts unenforceable due to the pandemic fallout as early as March 23 (in a dispute between a Kentucky hemp company and an Oregon CBD processor), and this murky issue between pre-existing industry difficulties and  post-pandemic industry difficulties may become a highly litigated issue in the coming months and years.  (Further discussion and analysis on force majeure provisions and common law principles in the state of California can be found at: https://www.seyfarth.com/news-insights/covid-19-update-force-majeure-under-california-law-in-business-and-commercial-disputes.html)

But the question is: when will these recommendations be addressed by the City Council, and when will they be adopted by the City? While it may be harder and harder to survive until this day comes, as the line around the block indicates, there seems to be no shortage of retailers willing to wait it out to enter the market.

 

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

We’re starting out this week with state news.  We’ll visit Montana, Illinois, California and Massachusetts.  On the federal level, there’s some support for cannabis to be part of the next stimulus bill.  And there’s an issue with marijuana research.  Our friends at Weedmaps have a new interactive map of state cannabis laws.  Finally, we look at New Zealand’s move to legalize marijuana.

State news

Let’s begin in Big Sky Country.  You’ll recall that there was a controversy over electronic signatures, and whether they should count for purposes of putting legalization on the ballot.  A state judge ruled against New Approach Montana, saying that only in-person signatures will count.

On to the Land of Lincoln, where 75 new cannabis dispensary licenses were due to be awarded on May 1.  Sadly for the applicants, the state announced that it will delay issuing the licences until the governor’s disaster proclamation expires.  Governor Pritzker recently extended the order until May 30.

Meanwhile, in the Golden State, the Department of Food and Agriculture released proposed rules for organic cannabis certification.  Comments are due July 7.

Which brings us back to the Bay State, the source of so much marijuana news.  As you all know, marijuana businesses are ineligible for federal stimulus funds.  Now the hope is that Massachusetts will enact a state-level equivalent of the PPP that will extend loans to the cannabis industry.  The state allows medical marijuana dispensaries to conduct business, but closed all recreational stores, due to COVID-19.

federal stimulus

Speaking of the federal stimulus plans, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) is still optimistic that cannabis can get some help from the federal government.  The bill that would allow the industry to receive funds has had no action taken since it was introduced on April 23.

research news

The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel released a memo finding that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s cannabis research program is non-compliant with international drug laws.  Oops.  This may provide some context for the DEA’s recent proposed rules overhauling its research program.

handy dandy chart

There’s nothing we like better at The Blunt Truth than compilations of state marijuana laws.  Now Weedmaps has added a new map to our list of go-to sites.  Many thanks!

International news

New Zealand released a final version of legislation that would legalize recreational cannabis.  It will be voted on in a national referendum in September.  If it is passed, the incoming government will be able to introduce the legislation to Parliament.

and finally

Staying in New Zealand, not everyone is happy about the prospect of legalization.  One MP used oregano to voice her displeasure.

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.

Our top story this week is a bill that would allow cannabis companies to receive federal stimulus money, and the support it has attracted.  Ballot issues continue in Florida and Montana.  The FDA is cracking down on CBD companies making wild claims about their products.  We’ll give you the latest from Massachusetts, and Tommy Chong is doing his part to help out those in need.

federal legislation

As we reported last week, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act (H.R. 6602) in the House of Representatives.  So far, the bill has been referred to the Committee on Small Business, but no other action has been taken.  Rep. Perlmutter has indicated that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports the bill, which currently has 16 co-sponsors.

legalization efforts

Florida‘s ballot initiative to make adult-use cannabis legal is now before the state’s Supreme Court.  A new law makes it more difficult for initiatives to appear on the ballot, and supporters of legal marijuana are arguing that it should not be applied retroactively to their initiative.

Things look brighter in New Jersey, where a new poll indicates that voters are likely to approve adult-use cannabis in November.  61% of voters surveyed in a Monmouth University poll said they supported legalization.

As promised last week, we have an update on the Montana situation.  Advocates for a ballot initiative allowing recreational marijuana pleaded their case that electronic signatures should count in establishing support for their cause.  State officials argued that there is not enough evidence that the signature gathering could be done securely.

massachusetts

What’s the latest from the Bay State?  Recreational pot shops will be closed until May 18, under a new order from Governor Charles Baker.  One solution for shuttered stores is to apply for a medical marijuana license.  Applications for medical marijuana cards have risen quite sharply since the shutdown.

fda crackdown

The Food and Drug Administration issued official warnings to several CBD companies over their claims that the product can cure opioid addiction or replace opioids.  The agency also sent a letter to a UK company about claims that CBD can treat the coronavirus.

and finally

Among those stepping up in this time of crisis, add Tommy Chong‘s name to the list.  The 81-year-old stoner icon is giving away medical marijuana to those in need.

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