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

This week, we have news on state ballot initiatives in Missouri and Arkansas.  Cory Booker may be willing to support cannabis banking.  And finally, the DANK Research bill made its debut on Capitol Hill.

missouri

Will Missouri voters be deciding on legal cannabis in November?  We’ll know soon.  Advocates may have fallen short of the signature requirement in two of the state’s Congressional districts, but we won’t know for sure until the review is completed.  Look for an announcement next week.  If the initiative does make it to the ballot, a recent poll indicates it’s likely to pass.

arkansas

Meanwhile, next door in Arkansas, the Secretary of State determined that there are enough signatures to put adult-use on the ballot.  Sounds great for the advocacy group backing the measure, right?  Yes, but…  Yesterday, the Board of Election Commissioners declined to certify the measure.  Some commissioners thought voters would be confused over issues such as THC limits.  Next stop for the advocates?  The state’s Supreme Court.

booker and banking

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has been advocating for federal cannabis legalization for many years now.  He’s also been on record opposing marijuana banking legislation.  Recently, however, he indicated he’d be wiling to compromise on the issue.  His Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) may not pass, and the SAFE Act seems more likely to garner enough votes to make it through Congress.  If social equity language were added to SAFE, Sen. Booker appears ready to lend his support.

and finally

Often, Congressional leaders will name their bills something that makes for an easy to remember acronym.  Think the PACT Act, which has been in the news lately.  Recently, Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Dave Joyce (R-OH) introduced the “Developing and Nationalizing Key Cannabis Research Act.”  Our friends at the excellent news source, Marijuana Moment, aren’t sure if the authors meant to name their bill the DANK Cannabis Research Act, but I think we all know they did.

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.

Lots of federal news this week!  The legalization bill got a hearing in the Senate.  The House passed a bill allowing cannabis ads.  And a marijuana research bill might actually makes its way to the President’s desk.  As for state news, South Dakota saw its medical cannabis market open.  And finally, if the skies above you are pink, it might be an alien invasion.  Or it might be a medical marijuana facility.

senate legalization bill

Following the introduction of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act last week, the Senate Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism held its first hearing on the bill this week.  Since the subcommittee chair is Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a co-sponsor of the bill, it seems likely that the measure will be reported to the full Senate Judiciary committee.  What happens after that, with the elections looming and the end of the 117th Congress on the horizon, is less clear.

cannabis advertising

The House passed the Fiscal Year 2023 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill this week, which seems like a dull story, even to the most avid policy wonk.  However, as we discussed recently on this blog, one of the bill’s provisions would allow cannabis advertising on broadcast TV and radio. In the Senate, Senator Ben Ray Lujan introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Advertising Act, which would do the same thing.

marijuana research

This week also saw the House pass a bill to allow research into the effects and benefits of cannabis consumption.  The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act passed with bipartisan support.  The bill’s language closely tracks that of a bill already passed in the Senate, so quick action is not out of the question.

south dakota

Not all the action is taking place on Capitol Hill this week.  In South Dakota, the first medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors this week.  Unity Rd. is the first dispensary in the state not on tribal lands.  It’s part of a franchise with other locations in Colorado and Oklahoma.

and finally

If you happened to be in Mildura, Australia recently, you may have noticed a pink glow in the sky.  Alien invasion?  End of the world?  Happily, no.  A medical marijuana growing facility was using some new equipment, and the window shades were left up.  One TV reporter called it an “Aurora Marijuanus.”

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.

Most of the news this week concerns Congressional action.  SAFE Banking made it into the NDAA, but will it stay there?  We heard discussion of bills to decriminalize cannabis and release prisoners.  On the state level, New York has new retail application rules.  And finally, we’d like to do some horn-tooting.

safe banking

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  The SAFE Banking Act passed the House of Representatives yet again.  This time, it was as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.  Now, the House version of the NDAA must be reconciled with the Senate version.  Could the seventh time be the charm?

decriminalization

Speaking of the Senate, lo and behold, the long-awaited Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act finally made its appearance.  Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have been promising this legislation for more than a year, and this week, they delivered.  Further bulletins as events warrant.

prisoner release

As we reported last week, some Senators are unhappy over the Biden administration’s lack of action on cannabis.  The President may have gotten their message.  He told reporters this week that he’s working on a crime bill now, and that no one should be in prison for using marijuana.  This is probably another “wait and see” situation.

new york

Turning our attention to the state level, we see that New York’s cannabis regulators are gearing up for the state’s legal market.  They finalized rules for retail licenses and accepted more applications for cultivation permits.  The rules provide those negatively impacted by the War on Drugs the first shot at setting up shop, as part of the state’s social equity program.

and finally

We got a very gratifying bit of news this week, which we will share with our readers.  Benzinga recently released its list of the 5 Best Cannabis Law Firms, and, you guessed it, Seyfarth made the list.

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

One might think that the recent uptick in the legalization of recreational marijuana usage would correlate with a decline in the arrests and seizures related to the leafy-green. According to recent data from the Drug Enforcement Administration, however, in 2021, federal law enforcement agents seized over 5.5 million marijuana plants and conducted more than 6,600 marijuana related arrests. That’s 20 percent more seizures and 25 percent more arrests than those made the previous year. Indeed, the DEA reports that it is “aggressively striving to halt the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States,” including through its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP), which began funding eradication programs in 1979 and has approximately 126 state and local law enforcement agency participants.

These numbers may be surprising considering that over 60% of Americans support the overall legalization of marijuana, which is the highest percentage of support ever reported in a nationwide scientific poll, according to the latest Gallup poll.

This gap in ideologies between the federal and state governments may be the result of several driving factors. For example, among the various reasons that states are increasingly leaning towards the legalization of marijuana usage is the financial prosperity it brings to state economies. In 2020 alone, legal sales of marijuana in the US bought in a record $17.5 billion, with states like Colorado and Oregon bringing in over $2.2 and $1.1 billion respectively, according to a recent Forbes article. Separately, from a social point of view, as of 2021, 49% of adults have tried marijuana in the US, which is approximately 162,678,600 Americans. By comparison, according to a Gallup poll, in 1971, only 4% of Americans tried it. Thus, adults appear to be using marijuana at much higher rates than ever before. Last, some states argue that legalization addresses the impact on African Americans, who are statistically more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for marijuana use than Caucasians, which in turn leads to higher incarceration rates and resources used, which in turn is a drain on taxpayers.

On the federal level, however, enforcement efforts persist. The history of the law surrounding this subject may offer insight. In the early 20th century, marijuana was strictly regulated under the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. It was not until 1970 that marijuana became a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. At the time, marijuana was thought by lawmakers to have a high potential for abuse and lacked effective medical use. Therefore, the law prohibited the utilization of even medical marijuana. It was not until 2014 when the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment was passed, effectively prohibiting the federal government from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws, that states were able to regulate the medical use of marijuana. Nevertheless, the federal law and enforcement policy remained the same.

The complexity of the legality and regulation of marijuana creates a great deal of ambiguity and confusion for employers in relation to hiring standards, applicable safety standards, and policies surrounding employee-usage. The rapid, significant changes amongst state governments and concurrent increase in enforcement on the federal level leaves employers in the middle with an increasing need to stay up-to-date on applicable laws and regulations.

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

This week, we report on some unhappiness with the Biden administration.  We have an update on the signature count for a Nebraska ballot initiative.  And we have a similar piece on a ballot initiative in North Dakota.  We note the signing of a banking bill in Pennsylvania.  And finally, we see Neil deGrasse Tyson wondering what other plants might offer a high.

unhappy senators

A group of Senators are dissatisfied with the Biden administration’s approach to marijuana issues, and they are making their voices heard.  They would like the White House to “use its existing authority to (i) deschedule cannabis and (ii) issue pardons to all individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related offenses.”  Further bulletins as events warrant, but don’t hold your breath.

nebraska

We reported a couple of weeks ago that the effort to put medical marijuana on the 2022 Nebraska ballot looked like a close call.  Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana needed 87,000 signatures for each of its two ballot measures, and they turned in more than 90,000 for each.  That’s not an enormous amount of leeway to account for faulty signatures or other administrative issues, so no guarantee of success just yet.

north dakota

New Approach North Dakota seems to be in a better position.  They collected over 25,000 signatures, which gives them a more than 10,000 signature cushion in their bid to put adult-use on the ballot.  Assuming the initiative goes up for a vote, will the Peace Garden State’s voters give it the thumbs up?  In 2018, a similar measure went down to defeat, but that was then…

pennsylvania

A cannabis banking bill is now law!  No, not on the federal level.  This piece of legislation comes courtesy of the state of Pennsylvania.  The law allows banks to serve licensed medical marijuana businesses, without fear of penalty under state law.  The same protections extend to insurance companies.  Of course, penalties could still accrue under federal law.

and finally

Neil deGrasse Tyson is well known as “your personal astrophysicist.”  Recently, however, he devoted some time in his podcast “Star Talk” to a discussion of other plants that might provide the same elevated mood as cannabis.  Note: scientific analysis of new plants is probably a safer way to determine their properties – don’t just start smoking whatever you find growing in your back yard!

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

In a move that typifies how indirect legislation can achieve what direct legislation may not, the House Appropriations Committee has advanced a bill that would allow for cannabis ads to be broadcast on local television and radio.  In the FY23 Financial Services and General Government spending legislation, the Committee included a provision that would bar the FCC from using any of the funds made available in the Appropriations Act to penalize  or deny a license to a television or radio station that broadcast advertisements for cannabis businesses if cannabis can legally be sold in the “community” where the station is licensed.

In other words, the bill would not permit cannabis ads on local outlets.  But it would stop the FCC from imposing penalties if local stations put those ads on air.  Which is likely why, while there was some objection to the provision, the final bill passed the committee on a simple voice vote.

So, why do we care?  If it passes, a portion of the Act (Section 512 to be precise) would put broadcast stations – which are regulated by the FCC – on the same footing as cable outlets – which are not.  This could be significant, not only because cannabis advertising spend would likely increase substantially over the current projection of over $18 billion this year, but the advertising audience would be expanded to the 25% of viewers who still watch their local stations, and the 82.5% of adults who listen to radio.

Ah, like all good things, more opportunities to advertise comes with more legal hurdles to trip over.  Weed advertisements face the same scrutiny as all advertising:  they must be truthful, substantiated, and not misleading.  So before rushing out to film a new ad to be aired on late night television, cannabis businesses will need to make sure that their ads pass muster under all of the laws and regulations that apply to any advertisement.   As well as competitors looking for any reason to make a claim that an advertisement is improper.

And, because this is in an appropriations bill, even if passed it would only prohibit FCC enforcement from October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023.  Which would mean the push for local cannabis advertising would become an annual event unless and until there is federal legislation directly addressing the issue.

Of course, all of this depends on whether Section 512 survives the trip through the House and Senate unscathed, a questionable proposition in this day and age.  If it does, then we could see a slew of new puns on weed, pot, and grass, as well as a pile of residuals for all those “Mary Jane” songs.

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

Nevada regulators approved rules for consumption lounges.  THC edibles got the green light in Minnesota.  Will the SAFE Act’s road to legalization run through the National Defense Authorization Act?  Medical marijuana users in DC will be able to self-certify.  And finally, we have more news of celebrity anger over phony CBD endorsements.

nevada

Public cannabis consumption lounges are coming to Nevada, a year after lawmakers passed a bill allowing them.  After 15 public meetings and lots of public comment, establishments could open as soon as this year.  Issues of social equity, warnings on higher concentrate products and limits on impaired driving all feature in the new regulations issued this week.

minnesota

THC edibles can now be sold legally in Minnesota, with restrictions on the amount of THC contained in them.  In addition, the law mandates child-proof packaging and prohibits marketing to children.  Some legislators seem to have been unaware of what they voted for, leading one to wonder, “What were they smoking?”

safe banking

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) has been an advocate for marijuana legalization for a very long time.  And now, in his final term in office, he’s still fighting for the industry.  Although the SAFE Act was stripped from the COMPETES Act last week, Perlmutter introduced it as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week.  Frank Sinatra would doubtless approve his high hopes.

district of columbia

The DC Council recently passed a law allowing residents to self-certify that their cannabis purchases are for medical purposes.  Those 65 and older have already been able to do so, since earlier this year.  Council members hope that opening up the process to all residents will help shut down the practice of stores offering marijuana as a “gift with purchase.”  If you’re thinking, “But wait, won’t Congress just shoot this down?” this is an emergency law, which means it goes into effect without Congressional review.  The down side is that it’s only good for 90 days.

and finally

Apparently, some folks in the back of the room didn’t get the message, so let’s go over this again.  Celebrities don’t like it when CBD businesses claim they’ve endorsed their products when they haven’t.  Clint Eastwood, for example, really doesn’t like it.  And he will sue.  His first lawsuit resulted in a $6.1 million verdict.  Now, he’s just won another $2 million.  Yes, that’s a fistful of dollars.

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.

Congress removed marijuana banking from the COMPETES Act.  In other federal news, a House Appropriations committee passed a cannabis-friendly amendment to a DOJ funding bill.  Meanwhile, in Nebraska, signature collecting continues for a ballot initiative.  Turning our attention abroad, Switzerland considers changes to its medical marijuana rules.  And finally, Major League Baseball welcomes CBD sponsors.

safe banking

If sponsors of the SAFE Banking Act are feeling like Sisyphus right about now, one can hardly blame them.  With each new Congress comes a new introduction of this bill that would allow cannabis businesses to use the banking system.  And in each Congress, the bill remains “just a bill.”  The most recent defeat for the legislation came late last week, when the provision was dropped from the COMPETES Act.  But hey – a new Congress starts in January…

doj spending bill

This week, however, brought some more promising news for the cannabis industry.  The House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to the FY23 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies spending bill prohibiting the agency from using money to prosecute those in cannabis-legal states.  Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) called the move “critically important.”

nebraska

Supporters of a medical marijuana ballot initiative in Nebraska have until July 7 to collect signatures, and it looks as if this will come down to the wire.  Advocates have gathered approximately 60,000 signatures for each of two initiatives, but need another 50,000 per petition to ensure they can qualify.  A 2020 drive gathered sufficient signatures, but was deemed to contain more than one subject and tossed off the ballot.

switzerland

In other medical cannabis news, the Swiss seem likely to change rules governing their medical marijuana industry.  Patients would no longer need a special government permit and could get a prescription from their doctor.  Businesses welcome the change, believing that it will allow them to expand their offerings.

and finally

If you’re looking to try something other than “peanuts and Cracker Jack” when you head out to the “old ball game,” Major League Baseball (MLB) has news for you.  Earlier this month, MLB approved CBD companies as team sponsors.  Products must be certified not to have psychoactive levels of THC and be approved by the Commissioner’s office.

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.

This week, we look at the Justice Department’s action (or lack thereof) on cannabis.  In other inaction news, the Supreme Court will not take up a medical marijuana case.  Turning to the states, we see that Maryland is working on rules for a possible cannabis market.   In Texas meanwhile, the state’s Republican party came out strongly against such action.  And finally, election season has brought us “pot for potholes.”

department of justice

We all know that cannabis is illegal on the federal level.  We also know that the Justice Department has not emphasized enforcement in states where cannabis is legal.  Different administrations have taken different stances on how clear that “hands-off” approach should be.  The Obama Administration formalized it with the Cole Memorandum; the Trump Administration rescinded that guidance.  So where does the Biden Administration stand?  Attorney General Merrick Garland indicated recently that he did not view prosecution of low-level, nonviolent marijuana offenses as the best use of the agency’s time, regardless of state law.  He also promised that the department would address the issue “in the days ahead.”

supreme court

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear two cases involving reimbursement for medical marijuana treatment.  The Minnesota Supreme Court had ruled that the Controlled Substances Act preempts state law on the issue.  SCOTUS’s decision not to hear the cases means that ruling will remain the law of the land (of 10,000 lakes).

maryland

In November, Maryland voters will decide whether adult-use marijuana will be legal in the state.  State lawmakers, assuming the answer will be “yes,” started gathering some information about the industry.  The Maryland House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup met with John Hudak, a senior fellow and cannabis policy expert at the Brookings Institution.  They asked questions concerning tax rates and application fees, among other issues.

texas

The Texas Republican Party met recently to vote on its party platform.  Cannabis/marijuana was mentioned in the document.  The party supports moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II on the federal level.  It also opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana.

and finally

Speaking of elections, not all Republicans are on board with the anti-legalization stance in Texas.  C.W. Gardner, a GOP Senate candidate from Missouri, has a new ad out that advocates federal legalization.  He’d like to take some of the tax revenue to fix America’s roads.  Because, no matter your stance on pot, no one likes potholes.

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 begin abroad, where Thailand decriminalized cannabis.  Closer to home, we note that the D.C. Council passed a new bill on employee marijuana use.  Legalization advocates in Nebraska got a favorable court decision.  The Delaware legislature failed to override the governor’s veto of a legalization bill.  And finally, you can add weed museums to your summer travel plans.

thailand

June 9 marked the day Thai citizens could begin to cultivate and possess cannabis.  Government officials have been quick to clarify that this is meant to legalize medical marijuana, and those who light up in public could be subject to jail time and fines.  As we reported earlier, the government is giving away plants to jump-start those backyard gardens.

district of columbia

Private companies would be barred from firing employees who test positive for cannabis under a new bill passed by the D.C. Council.  The bill contains exceptions for safety-sensitive positions and federal government workers.  The bill now heads to the Mayor’s desk, and then on to Congress.  Why Congress?  We answered that question here.

nebraska

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana won a victory in court this week, when a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction removing a signature-gathering requirement.  The law stated that ballot initiatives must gather signatures from 5% of residents in each of the state’s counties.  The ruling said the requirement led to discrimination among voters.  The state has vowed to appeal.

delaware

While we taking a break from blogging last week, the Delaware legislature failed to override Governor John Carney’s (D) veto of cannabis legalization.  Since the legislature hasn’t overridden a gubernatorial veto in over 40 years, no one should have been surprised.  The path forward for advocates is unclear at this point.

and finally

If you’ve decided a tour of the nation’s museums devoted to marijuana is on your bucket list, you want to make sure you’re visiting the best ones.  We’ve got you covered.

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