Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana. This week, we see lots of developments at the state level: New York’s licensing woes continue, Florida’s Attorney General speaks out against a legalization ballot initiative, and Ohio legalization advocates collect thousands more signatures for their ballot initiative. Also, we draw your attention to the latest edition of the PBC Banking Directory, and there’s a familiar name on the PBC Conference speaker’s list! And finally, did smoking pot make Bill Gates “cool” in high school?
The road to an adult-use retail market has been full of potholes in New York, as we detailed earlier this summer. The latest obstacle involves a lawsuit filed by military veterans, who claim that the Office of Cannabis Management prioritized applicants with prior drug convictions over those without. The judge in the case has issued a restraining order prohibiting state officials from processing or issuing licenses. The state attorney general’s office challenged the order, arguing that this would cause financial harm to approved licensees. A resolution may be coming at today’s hearing, but this seems a long way from being settled.
Florida is one of those states where events always seem to warrant further bulletins, so let’s have a look at the situation over the legalization ballot initiative. When we last reported on this situation, advocates of legalization had gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot, but the state’s Attorney General argued to the state Supreme Court that the measure as written didn’t meet state constitutional requirements. A recent court filing details the AG’s belief that the measure is a power grab by Trulieve, who, the AG argues, would maintain its dominance over the industry in the state. Specifically, the brief points to “misleading” language in the initiative that might lead voters to think cannabis is federally legal.
…the Sponsor declares that it “strains credulity well past the breaking point to think that the average voter is unaware that marijuana is illegal at the federal level.”ATTORNEY GENERAL’S REPLY BRIEF, page 4
But most Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court justice.
Ouch. It seems a bit unclear what Supreme Court justice identification has to do with knowing that the federal government still considers cannabis a drug on par with heroin, but the AG obviously doesn’t think much of her fellow citizens’ knowledge of current events. As always, further bulletins as events warrant.
Advocates of legalization in Ohio submitted thousands of additional signatures in an effort to place an adult-use measure on the 2023 ballot. Assuming that at least 679 of them are deemed valid, voters will make their views known in November. In other Ohio news, in a special election held this week, voters rejected a revision to the Ohio constitution requiring a 60% majority for constitutional amendments to pass. Although the outcome of that vote would not have had any effect on the cannabis initiative (because it came about through the citizen initiated statute process), it may indicate general voter interest in simple majority rule on constitutional questions more broadly. Turnout this fall is expected to be high, due to an abortion question also on the ballot.
PBC GREEN PAGES
PBC has released the second annual edition of its Green Pages, a cannabis banking directory. It’s available here. And, our own Stan Jutkowitz will be speaking at the PBC Conference next month on “Entity Structure Impact on 280E Taxes.” If you’re interested in the financial side of the cannabis industry, check this out!
Bill Gates, in a recent appearance on Seth Rogen’s podcast, confessed to smoking pot while in high school, in an effort to “be cool.” Setting aside whether it’s cool to smoke in order to look cool, being a billionaire probably wins Gates more cool points than puffing on a joint at this point.
Be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!