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.
January proved that there’s always a cannabis angle, no matter what the topic of conversation. The new Attorney General said he would not go after cannabis companies; the NFL announced it would not air a medical marijuana ad during the Super Bowl; and furloughed federal workers were able to get free cannabis.
In February, we saw the first ever Congressional hearing on cannabis banking. See the hearing’s webpage, for the details.
In March, no news was big news. New Jersey failed to pass legislation legalizing recreational marijuana. On the federal level, however, the SAFE Banking Act was approved by the House Financial Services Committee (45-15).
And so on to April, immigrants working with marijuana got some bad news. U.S.C.I.S. released guidance stating that those involved in the cannabis industry fail to show “good moral character.” In the world of hemp, marijuana’s straight-arrow cousin, the Department of Agriculture released guidelines for importing hemp seeds.
Which brings us to the merry, merry month of May, and the flood of comments on CBD products and how they should be regulated. There were over 700 when we posted originally; there are over 4,000 now.
History was made in June, when the state of Illinois legalized cannabis as of January 1, 2020. And The Blunt Truth published its 300th blog post! Meanwhile, New York failed to pass a legalization deal, joining New Jersey in the “Better Luck Next Time” group.
On to July, when the Senate Banking Committee had a hearing on cannabanking. Full video, as well as member statements and witness testimony are available at the committee website. And low THC cannabis oil was legalized in Kansas, which otherwise has some of the most restrictive laws in the country.
As for the dog days of August, Colorado physicians started prescribing medical marijuana in lieu of opioids. It was stop and go for hemp on the state level: New Jersey expanded hemp production, allowing CBD in food (both human and animal) and cosmetics. The state of Washington, however, headed in a different direction. The state’s Agriculture Department clarified that hemp and CBD in food or cosmetics is illegal under both state and federal law.
In October, Senator Mitch McConnell directed the DEA to figure out how to distinguish hemp from marijuana. Note that McConnell still refers to marijuana as hemp’s “illicit cousin.” That would be a useful technology in South Dakota. A Colorado man was indicted by a grand jury for transporting the product through the state to Minnesota. Granted, it’s much longer to go through Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota to get to Minnesota from Colorado, but it would still be shorter than serving a 15 year prison sentence.
November brought us turkey and hemp rules. The Department of Agriculture officially proposed rules for the industry, which are available here. Several northeastern states tried to coordinate their marijuana policies. As this article notes, sometimes it’s hard to get everyone on the same page, even if they belong to the same political party.
Which brings us to the festive month of December. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy pushed for statewide decriminalization, as a stop-gap measure until a ballot initiative can be voted upon in November 2020. Michigan‘s sales of recreational cannabis began on December 1, amid long lines of customers. The Senate failed to take 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. However, protections for state-legal medical marijuana programs were once again included in the recently passed funding bill.
Lots happened this year, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say much will happen in 2020. Rest assured, we at The Blunt Truth will keep you apprised of all the news you need to know!