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

We’ll start off with Congress, where the House Energy & Commerce Committee held a hearing on marijuana on Wednesday.  Pretty much every news outlet that covers cannabis has a piece on this, Marijuana Business Daily has a nice round-up that’s free to access.

One of the subjects that was top of mind for legislators at the hearing was research.  The DEA is moving to offer proposed regulations for researchers who want to grow cannabis; the regulations are currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget.

Turning to the states, let’s start with Florida, where there was a lot of activity this week.  Proponents of marijuana legalization withdrew their ballot initiative, due to a lack of valid signatures.  Their plan is to try again in 2022.

In other Florida news, a state Senator has introduced a bill to legalize cannabis in light of the ballot initiative’s failure.  This is in addition to another bill that would decriminalize marijuana, introduced in August.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the voters will decide whether to allow medical marijuana in the state.  The Secretary of State certified the signatures submitted to allow a ballot initiative in the upcoming election.

And there’s news from Tennessee.  Legislators have introduced both medical marijuana and decriminalization bills.

Recently, South Dakota has become a hotbed of cannabis news, and this week is no different.  You will no doubt recall the governor’s adamant disapproval of hemp legalization.  Well, it’s slightly less adamant now.  This is surely good news for those seeking to transport hemp from Colorado to Minnesota.

And finally, Bessemer, Michigan purchased a “nasal ranger” to track down the source of a powerful marijuana odor plaguing the town.  Although the state legalized cannabis in 2018, there is a limit to how many plants one can grow at a time.  The hope is that the new equipment will sniff out any lawbreakers.

See you next week!

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

Let’s start with a look at the new marijuana market in Illinois.  First day sales topped $3 million and 77,000 transactions at more than 40 dispensaries.  All those new customers have led to shortages; clearly, pegging supply to demand is a complicated business.

Moving on to South Dakota, where no type of cannabis is legal.  Will that change in 2020?  The Secretary of State recently validated a ballot initiative that would both legalize recreational marijuana and require the legislature to pass laws governing hemp.  This initiative joins another ballot measure that would legalize medical marijuana.

In other South Dakota news, the Department of Agriculture approved the Flandreau Santee Sioux’s plan to grown industrial hemp on tribal lands.  Regular readers will doubtless recall that South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, is no fan of hemp.

In Virginia, Governor Northam released a criminal justice reform agenda that includes decriminalizing marijuana.  New prosecutors in two Northern Virginia counties indicated that they will no longer pursue possession charges for small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Meanwhile, in New York, Governor Cuomo has promised to legalize recreational marijuana in 2020.  He also proposed creating a state-run cannabis research center – the SUNY Global Cannabis Center.

So which states are most likely to legalize marijuana in 2020?  Cannabis Business Times has an article that names 11 possibilities.

As for hemp, 2019 was a big year.  Hemp Industry Daily has a rundown of the top 10 stories.

Finally, the Ohio State Medical Board received a petition asking for an addition to the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.  The condition?  Being a Cleveland Browns or Cincinnati Bengals fan.  Hard to argue there’s not a lot of pain involved in rooting for either of those franchises.

See you next week!

In 2016, Pennsylvania enacted its “Medical Marijuana Act” (MMA), which permits individuals suffering from certain conditions to use marijuana for medicinal use. Several provisions in the MMA impact employers. For instance, the MMA makes it unlawful for an employer to “discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee regarding an employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana.” In other words, taking adverse action against an employee based solely on the individual’s status as a medical marijuana cardholder would likely be considered discrimination under the MMA. Continue Reading Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act at Issue in Recently Filed Complaint

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

Let’s start off with Illinois, where recreational marijuana became legal on January 1, 2020.  A social equity component of the legislation ensures that some of the tax revenue will lower the costs of starting a cannabis business.  And Governor J. B. Pritzker ended 2019 by issuing over 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana offenses.

In Indianaa state Senator introduced legislation to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of cannabis.  The move has bipartisan support in the legislature, but is opposed by the governor.

In Oklahoma, it’s been an up and down week for legalization advocates.  They withdrew their recreational cannabis petition, over concerns that it might cause problems for the state’s booming medical market.  Then, they resubmitted it, after changing the wording to include protections for medical marijuana.

As we all know, 2020 is an election year.  Forbes has a nice roundup of where cannabis may be on the ballot, either for recreational or medical access.

If you’d like a summary of 2019’s biggest marijuana stories, the Cannabis Business Times, Marijuana Business Daily, and Marijuana Business Daily International have you covered.  Of course, we took a stab at that ourselves.

See you next week!

The continued efforts of federal, state, and local governments to legalize cannabis, both in medical and recreational uses, leaves many potential impacts, including environmental law and regulatory issues in the manufacturing, processing, and distribution of cannabis products. Continue Reading Future Enterprises and Environmental Impacts in the Cannabis Industry

Welcome to The Week in Weed’s look back at the news of 2019; whether the year has flown by or seemed to last forever, it’s (almost) over now.  In tribute to Dave Barry and his always hilarious Year in Review, we’ll organize these stories by month.

Without further ado, here’s a look at the stories that grabbed our attention in 2019. Continue Reading The Year in Weed: 2019 Edition

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

The big news on Capitol Hill this week was the Senate’s lack of action on the banking bill.  Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the chairman of the Senate banking committee, opposes legalization and seemed disinclined to move on the issue.

Turning to appropriations, protections for state-legal medical marijuana programs were once again included in the recently passed funding bill.  Protections for recreational programs were not.

On the state level, New Jersey legislators passed a bill to put legalization on the 2020 ballot.  Organizers in Oklahoma filed a petition to put legalization on their ballot; now they need to start collecting signatures.  And a Kentucky legislator is proposing that state legalize as well.

Although cannabis will be legal statewide in Illinois as of January 1, 2020, legalization may not come to the city of Chicago until the summer.  A City Council committee approved a six-month moratorium due to the lack of minority-owned dispensaries, but that proposal must be approved by the Council and signed by the Mayor.

If you’d like to submit comments on the hemp rule, you’ve got some extra time to do so.  The Department of Agriculture has extended the comment period by 30 days to January 29, 2020.

Finally, we here at The Blunt Truth would like to wish all our readers a happy holiday season.  We’ll be back next week with our “Year In Weed” post.

Earlier this month, Governor Pritzker signed into law SB 1557, revising the Recreational Cannabis Law to expand permissible marijuana testing and related adverse action.

The Original Legalization Bill As Enacted

The Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (410 ILCS 705) (the “Legalization Act”) legalizes recreational cannabis for Illinois adults starting January 1, 2020. The Legalization Act specifically allows Illinois employers to enforce “reasonable zero tolerance or drug free workplace policies, or employment policies concerning drug testing, smoking, consumption, storage, or use of cannabis in the workplace or while on call provided that the policy is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner.” The Act also permits employers to prohibit employees from being under the influence of or using cannabis in the employer’s workplace or while on call. Further, the Act (i) allows employers to discipline or terminate an employee who violates the employer’s workplace drug policy, and (ii) specifically insulates employers from liability for disciplining or terminating employees based on the employer’s good faith belief that the employee was either impaired at work (as a result of using cannabis) or under the influence of cannabis while at work. Continue Reading Illinois Amends Recreational Cannabis Law To Protect Drug Testing By Employers

As previously reported, the Tenth Circuit created a buzz when it found that cannabis companies need to pay overtime under the FLSA even though marijuana is illegal under Federal law.

Since then, another case has emerged from the “weedwork” in the Northern District of California claiming that cannabis companies owe employees: overtime hours, expense reimbursements, and penalties for failing to provide compliant meal and rest breaks.

Given the rise of wage and hour litigation, cannabis companies need to implement proper practices to weed out wage and hour claims. Some things to consider:

  • Classifying workers appropriately. In California cannabis companies who engage in deliveries must classify delivery workers as employees, not independent contractors. And now with AB 5 going into effect January 1, 2020, cannabis companies who want to use contractors for other parts of their business must ensure that they satisfy any of the enumerated exemptions.
  • Overtime. Companies should pay overtime if employees work more than 40 hours in a work week (and more than 8 hours in a day and for the first 8 hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek if in CA). It is important to know the differences between the FLSA and California wage laws.
  • No Off-The-Clock Work. Cannabis companies must compensate employees for all hours worked, implement policies preventing off-the-clock work, and ensure no off-the-clock work is occurring.
  • Compliant Meal Periods. In California, companies need to provide employees who work more than six hours in a day but less than 10 hours, a full 30 minute duty-free meal period before the fifth hour worked. Employees who work more than 10 hours in a day are entitled to a second 30 minute meal break, unless a waiver is at play.
  • Compliant Rest Periods. Companies operating in California also need to provide employees with at least 10 minute rest breaks for every four hours (or major fraction thereof) worked.

If you’re looking for more information on wage and hour issues, you can find it on Seyfarth Shaw’s Wage and Hour blog.

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

Virginia is a state we rarely discuss in The Week in Weed.  A glance at our archives reveals only four mentions all time.  That may be about to change.  The state’s Attorney General hosted a summit on legalizing cannabis in the state.  We’ll be keeping an eye out for further developments.

We all know the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.’  Legalize ND has taken that message to heart.  The group turned in language for a ballot initiative to the North Dakota secretary of state’s office, the first step in getting an initiative on the 2020 ballot.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr asking that the Drug Enforcement Administration allow researchers to purchase products from state-legal dispensaries.  The hope is that more suppliers will allow for better research.

Turning our attention to the world of sports, the XFL will not be testing its players for cannabis when the new league begins play next spring.  And Major League Baseball is considering dropping marijuana testing for minor league players; major leaguers are already not tested for cannabis.

And finally, Canada’s contestant in the Miss Universe pageant wore an outfit representing the nation’s cannabis legalization in the “National Costume” segment of the competition.  “Alyssa Boston wore a green, skirted outfit with a leaf-shaped back piece, a cannabis-leaf crown, and a glittery, leaf-adorned, scepter.”  That must have been a sight to behold.

See you next week!