Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.
This week we have lots of state action – there’s news from Rhode Island, Mississippi, Delaware, South Dakota, North Carolina and Missouri. But the feds have been
taking action talking about taking action too. In international news, the United Nations comes out against cannabis advertising. And finally, you know an industry has gone mainstream when NASCAR accepts their sponsorship.
We’ve got lots of state news this week; some get closer to legalizing, some get further away.
As we reported last week, a legalization measure passed the Senate, but things are moving more slowly in the House. There are three different bills under consideration, and it may be fall before lawmakers can agree on final language.
It looks like the legislature will meet again this summer to pass legislation to set up a medical marijuana program. The governor supports the idea of a special session, but wants legislators to work out language before it begins, so the session doesn’t drag on.
Perhaps 2022 will be the First State’s year to pass a cannabis bill, because it’s going nowhere in 2021. Disagreements over equity funding are part of the problem, but the difficulty really lies in the fact that 75% of House members would have needed to support it. Plus, the governor is not a fan of legalization, so who knows what would have happened, even if they’d passed a bill?
Even once voters pass legalization, that doesn’t mean sales begin right away. For every Arizona, there’s a South Dakota. While adult-use cannabis is tied up in court, medical marijuana is moving ahead. The state’s Department of Health released draft rules for a medical program this week. They go to the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee, which will most likely look at them in September. The state’s medical cannabis program went into effect yesterday.
Medical marijuana got a hearing recently in North Carolina, with witnesses attesting to the value of cannabis in dealing with chronic pain and PTSD. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the legislation, which now moves to the Finance Committee.
After COVID put an end to plans for a 2020 ballot initiative, proponents of adult-use are looking at a 2022 drive. New Approach Missouri plans to release language in the next few weeks, and likes their chances at the ballot box.
federal (discussion of) action
So with all this action in the states, has anything been happening on the federal level?
A House subcommittee passed a bill that would allow the District of Columbia to legalize marijuana sales and afford some protection to banks working with cannabis companies. The bill now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee. Dozens of groups signed on to a letter sent to lawmakers on both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, urging them to allow DC sales. Voters passed an initiative legalizing adult-use back in 2014, but sales have never been legal.
If you were going to guess which Supreme Court Justice would call out the federal government’s prohibition of marijuana use, would you go with Clarence Thomas? Probably not. But he came out this week with a pretty harsh assessment of the conflicted times in which we find ourselves. As we reported last week, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging Section 280E of the Tax Code. Justice Thomas issued a dissent to this denial in which he says, “This contradictory and unstable state of affairs strains basic principles of federalism and conceals traps for the unwary.”
In international news, the United Nations called for a ban on cannabis advertising in its annual World Drug Report. This is simply a recommendation; the body cannot enforce any such ban.
This weekend, the Pocono Speedway will host a race sponsored by a CBD company.
Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!