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

New Hampshire’s Senate decided against legalizing.  Virginia will not be recriminalizing possession.  Ohio’s having some difficulties with its ballot initiative.  On the federal level, cannabis banking may be part of the COMPETES Act.  And finally, could you pick up some marijuana along with your vegetables at the farmers’ market?

new hampshire

New Hampshire is surrounded by states where marijuana is legal for adult-use.  Prospects for legalization there have long been dim, and recently, the lights went out entirely for this legislative session.  The state Senate voted against legalization late last week.  Supporters of the bill argued that it would bring the state more in line with its neighbors, but opponents opposed the specifics of the bill.

virginia

The legislative process is sometimes very complicated, and Virginia’s recent back-and-forth over cannabis is one of those times.  The legislature had sent a bill to the governor dealing with hemp products.  The governor added in additional provisions, including an increase in penalties for adults possessing two ounces of marijuana.  The legislature then shelved the entire bill until next year.  So the end result of all this activity is…nothing.

ohio

We’ve been following the saga of legalization in Ohio for a while now.  Regular readers will doubtless recall that we left proponents prepared to collect additional signatures to put legalization on the ballot after it appeared that the legislature would not take up the issue.  Well, now the initiative may not happen after all.  Opponents of the measure in the legislature now object to the timing of the signature gathering, and insist that the measure must wait until 2023.  Supporters of the initiative have filed suit to allow the process to go forward. Further bulletins as events warrant.

competes act

The SAFE Banking Act could finally be enacted, as part of the America COMPETES Act.  Right now, the provision is in the House version, but not in the Senate version.   Legislators are working to come up with a bill that can pass both chambers.  This is probably the closest the law has come to getting passed, but it’s still a long way from the finish line.

and finally

You may be able to pick up some cannabis along with your organic kale and artisanal cheeses, if a bill in California passes.  The Assembly Business and Professions Committee approved a bill that would allow small growers to sell directly to consumers by a vote of 10-1.

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 look at what’s happening with medical marijuana in Kentucky.  President Biden grants clemency to several prisoners incarcerated for cannabis offenses.  We look at ballot initiatives in various states.  CBS released a new poll concerning marijuana.  And finally, the term pizza joint may have a new meaning in New York.

kentucky

After failing to pass in the state legislature, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) is considering using an executive order to legalize.  The governor asked his staff to look into their legal options, saying, “We’re behind Mississippi. That’s something that we can’t be OK with.”  (Ouch.)  Lawmakers, even those who supported the bill, consider this a power grab.  One thing the Governor has done is approve a cannabis research facility at the University of Kentucky.

clemency

Turning to the federal government, President Biden recently granted pardons to three non-violent drug offenders and commuted the sentences of 75 others.  Some activists view this as a drop in the bucket; the administration says they will continue to review additional clemency petitions in future.

ballot initiatives

Several states are considering adding cannabis to the November 2022 ballot.  Here’s where each of them stand:

Oklahoma

The state Supreme Court allowed two adult-use initiatives to go forward.  Advocates need to collect 178,000 signatures and can begin their efforts in May.

Missouri

Activists are nearing the number of signatures needed to put adult-use on the ballot.  Legal Missouri 2022 says 200,000 people have signed their petition, but will continue to collect signatures until the May 8 deadline.

North Dakota

The Secretary of State approved the language put forth by New Approach North Dakota.  This allows the group to start gathering signatures.  Their deadline is July 11.

cannabis support

CBS News recently released the results of a poll on adult-use legalization, and a majority of Americans (66%) favor it.  This holds true at both the national and the state level.  A majority of those polled also would either favor or wouldn’t oppose a cannabis business opening in their own neighborhood.

and finally

One of the advantages of writing about cannabis is that the puns are plentiful.  For example, this story from the New York Post about the possibility of pizzerias being able to sell cannabis-infused products.

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 hope you had a pleasant 4/20.  If you’re in the DC area, know that the District is in the midst of a medical cannabis tax holiday.

On to the news!  Schumer delays introducing his legalization bill.  There’s a new House bill dealing with weed regulations.  Sales began this week in New Jersey.  New York approves cultivation licenses.  Yes, we have no medical marijuana in Kentucky.  And finally, Woody Harrelson is opening a dispensary.

Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act

When we last mentioned the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), it was slated to be introduced in the spring.  Now the plan is to introduce it before the August recess.  The problem facing the sponsors (Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)) is that they need all 50 Democrats and 10 Republicans in order to pass it.  And that’s a heavy lift.

prepare act

Meanwhile, back in the House, a bi-partisan group introduced the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult Use Regulated Environment Act.  That’s quite a mouthful, but you can just call it the PREPARE Act.  Sponsors David Joyce (R-OH), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Brian Mast (R-FL) want the federal government to be ready for what they call the “inevitable end to cannabis prohibition.”

new jersey

This week marked the beginning of adult-use cannabis sales in New Jersey.  It’s been a long and winding road, as we’ve reported before, but they got there in the end.

new york

Across the river in New York, regulators approved its first group of cultivation licenses.  The state hopes to start retail sales later this year.

kentucky

Just last week, we reported on the medical marijuana situation in Kentucky (not popular in Senate, time running out) and promised updates.  Well, the bill didn’t make it over the finish line.  The governor stated that he would consider issuing an executive order if the legislature didn’t act.  Once again, further bulletins as events warrant.

and finally

Our more mature readers may remember Woody Harrelson’s role as Woody the bartender on Cheers.  He’s now branching out, serving as the CEO of a new dispensary, The Woods.  No word on whether he’ll do any budtending.

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

South Carolina moves a step forward on medical marijuana.  What’s the situation on that issue in Kentucky?  We have an update on Maryland’s ballot question.  Speaking of ballots, North Dakota voters may be voting on adult-use as well.  And finally, we look to New Zealand for the latest story involving an illicit cannabis grow.

south carolina

No one can say that South Carolina is rushing into legalizing medical cannabis.  State Senator Tom Davis first introduced a bill in 2015, with no success.  But perhaps, in 2022, its time has come.  The Senate passed a bill that would create an extremely limited market, and now a House committee has cleared the legislation for debate in the full House.  We’ll let you know how it all turns out.

kentucky

In other medical marijuana news, time is running out for a bill in the Kentucky legislature, but the governor may take action on his own.  Although the measure is popular with voters, it’s struggling to gain traction in the Senate.  Governor Andy Bashear (D) says he may issue an executive order if the session ends without a bill sent to his desk.  Again, watch this space for more.

maryland

Marylanders will be voting on adult-use legalization this November.  If that passes, a bill to implement it will take effect.  The Legislature’s approval for the ballot initiative meant it would go forward.  Governor Larry Hogan (R) allowed the companion bill to go into effect without his signature.

north dakota

When it comes to cannabis, South Dakota seems to be the Dakota that gets all the attention.  We’ve written about the Mount Rushmore State four times just in 2022.  But don’t sleep on their neighbor to the north!  Marijuana advocates hope to put an initiative on the ballot, if they can get approval from the state secretary and rustle up more than 15,000 signatures by July 11.

and finally

New Zealand’s cannabis referendum failed in 2020.  So why were marijuana plants found growing on the grounds of Parliament?  Perhaps they were left behind by protestors?  No matter how they got there, the Speaker of the House asked “for the weed to be weeded.”

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.

The House of Representatives passed both the MORE Act (again) and a bill dealing with medical marijuana research.  In Maryland, the legislature voted to put marijuana legalization on the November ballot.  DC has also been considering, but not passing, marijuana legislation.  And finally, Nike makes hemp shoes.

more act

As expected, the House of Representatives passed the MORE Act late last week.  It has been received in the Senate and referred to the Finance Committee.  If history is any guide, it will languish there, but we’ll keep you apprised of any movement.

medical marijuana research act

In other House news, the Medical Marijuana Research Act passed early this week.  The legislation would allow researchers to access cannabis from state-legal dispensaries.  Currently, researchers can only access marijuana from the University of Mississippi, which is widely believed to have a product inferior to that available elsewhere.  Add to that the delays in getting approval for studies, and you get a frustrating situation.  This bill is, like the MORE Act, in the hands of the Senate.  Further bulletins as events warrant.

maryland

Turning our attention to the states, we note that the Maryland legislature passed a bill to put adult-use legalization on the ballot.   Both H.B. 1, and H.B. 837, which implements legalization, now head to the Governor’s desk.

district of columbia

With the ban on cannabis sales still in force in DC, the City Council recently turned its attention to the “gifting” phenomenon.  Stores set up shop, selling stickers, T-shirts or other small items and give out marijuana with purchase.  Everyone knows what’s really going on, but it’s technically within the law.  A recent bill would have cracked down on such establishments and would have allowed all DC residents, 21 or older, to self-certify that they were entitled to medical marijuana, which can be bought and sold.  The bill didn’t garner sufficient support to pass, so the status quo remains.

and finally

Nike now offers three shoes made from hemp, as part of its sustainability program.  Two versions of the Air Force 1 and a Blazer Mid ’77 feature hemp woven fabric.

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, the House of Representatives moves closer to voting on the MORE Act.  Meanwhile, in the Senate, a bill on cannabis research makes its way through the process.  In state news, New Jersey’s dispensary licenses and sales bring controversy.  On the other hand, New Mexico starts legal sales today.  And finally, Las Vegas may get a pot-positive hotel.

more act

It’s deja vu all over again.  The MORE Act will get a House vote sometime soon, and will most likely pass.  Although one could argue that Congress seriously discussing this legislation merits notice, it’s not as if we haven’t seen this before.  Will the Senate pass it this time?  Will the President sign it?  Stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath.

marijuana research

Speaking of the Senate, they’ve been occupied with cannabis, too.  The Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act passed by unanimous consent late last week.  Does the bipartisan Senate support indicate the House could pass this as well?  Will the President sign it?  We seem to have more questions than answers this week.

new jersey

Moving on to the states, regular readers will doubtless recall that New Jersey passed adult-use legalization just over a year ago.  The state is now dealing with the real heavy lifting – setting up a marketplace.  Many in the state, including the Senate President, Nick Scutari (D), are unhappy over the delay in awarding licenses.  Hearings to follow.

new mexico

In contrast, New Mexico’s adult-use sales begin today.  Although not everyone is delighted over the details, customers will be encouraged to hear that there’s no shortage of supply.  In addition, two Native American tribes will also begin retail sales.

and finally

If you’re headed to Las Vegas, and you’re looking for a marijuana-friendly place to stay, the Artisan Hotel has plans to meet your needs.

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.

Kentucky works on a medical marijuana bill.  A House resolution asks the United Nations to de-schedule cannabis.  New Hampshire and Rhode Island look at legalizing marijuana.  Congress would like the Food and Drug Administration to regulate CBD.  And finally, a cannabis bar opens in Tennessee.

kentucky

The Kentucky House passed a bill last week that legalizes medical marijuana in the state.  Now, the bill seems to be running out of time, and steam, in the Senate.  The legislative term ends early next week, and it looks like there aren’t the days or the support to pass the legislation.

united nations

Reps. Nancy Mace (R-SC) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) would like the United States to use its influence in the United Nations to de-schedule marijuana.  To that end, they’ve introduced a resolution in the House asking the US to do just that.  Cannabis is currently on the UN’s Schedule I of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.  Mace and Lee believe that many countries would legalize marijuana if it were removed from the Schedule.

new england

From New Jersey to Maine, adult-use cannabis is legal, except for New Hampshire and Rhode Island.  Both states are looking at changing that.  In Rhode Island, legislators heard testimony on the governor’s legalization plan, and discussed a separate bill introduced by members of the House and Senate.

Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, the House is busy with a legalization bill, and the governor seems less opposed than he has been in the past.  However, prospects in the Senate, where both the majority leader and minority leader are against legalization, are less promising.

CBD

CBD products sit on store shelves pretty much everywhere.  Based on that, you might think the Food and Drug Administration regulates them, to ensure safety and efficacy.  But, you’d be wrong.  As part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill, lawmakers direct the FDA to set up a regulatory framework for CBD and other cannabis derivatives.  Although this is non-binding, it does show that Congress sees the problem and wants to fix it.

and finally

If you find yourself in Nashville, and you’d like some hemp-infused ketchup with your French fries, Buds & Brews has you covered.  It’s a sports bar, with the usual bar food on offer.  However, if you’d like your condiments, desserts or mocktails with a little herbal refreshment, you can get that too.

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.

The ban on cannabis sales in DC remains in effect.  The Delaware House voted against adult-use marijuana.  New York is offering opportunities in the cannabis industry to those with marijuana convictions.  The NCAA is relaxing its drug testing policy.  And finally, a UK barrister wears a wig made of hemp.

district of columbia

You can be forgiven for thinking, as we did, that with Congress in Democratic hands, DC’s ban on cannabis sales would be ended.  It seemed a reasonable expectation, but it was not to be.  The original version of the recently-passed federal spending bill did not include the ban; the version that emerged out of conference did.  In order to secure needed Republican votes, the version with the ban was the one that passed.  We’d say better luck next time, but…

delaware

Delaware’s House of Representatives voted down a bill that would allow adult-use marijuana in the state.  Although a majority of members supported the bill, a super-majority needed to get on board.  Perhaps a legal market in Maryland or Pennsylvania would change some hearts and minds?

new york

As the Empire State gets ready to set up its cannabis market, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced that the first licenses will go to those with prior cannabis convictions.  Those with a close family member with a marijuana offense will also get priority, as will nonprofits or businesses with leaders with a conviction.  The state’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative is the first in the nation to prioritize those with prior offenses.

ncaa

In the spirit of March Madness, we note that the NCAA relaxed its drug testing policy.  The organization increased the amount of THC that must be present in the athlete’s body to trigger a positive test result, and made the punishments imposed less severe.  The changes are in line with those made by professional sports organizations.

and finally

If you’ve seen any English courtroom dramas, you know the barristers and jurists wear wigs in court.  Traditionally, said wigs have been made from horsehair.  (We don’t know why, and it seemed like, to stick with the animal theme, a research rabbit hole we didn’t want to investigate.)  Now, stylish members of the bar can wear wigs made of hemp.

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

The latest Gallup poll shows that 68% of Americans support cannabis legalization. Further, the rate of positive cannabis test results has jumped in the last decade. And according to recent news reports, some large employers have stopped testing job applicants for cannabis. As a result, other employers may be pondering whether to change their approach to an increasingly popular drug that is legal for medicinal or recreational use in most states. However, the decision may not be so easy. Here, we outline a variety of issues that might aid relevant stakeholders in weighing the practical and legal risks before making this important decision.

States have been passing medical and recreational cannabis laws at an increasing pace. Years ago, when states first stepped foot in this arena, the laws and some courts interpreting them allowed employers wide latitude in enforcing their drug-free workplace policies, such as in California and Colorado. But then courts in Connecticut and Massachusetts, for instance, issued game-changing decisions, holding either that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and state law do not conflict because the CSA does not prohibit employment of illegal drug users or that employers may have a duty to accommodate medical cannabis users under a state disability discrimination law. Since then, more states have been enacting new laws and courts are issuing new decisions that arguably make it more difficult for employers to enforce their drug-free workplace policies, especially if they have a large geographic footprint. Indeed, as we reported here, in 2021 alone, a few states passed cannabis laws with clear employment protections not yet seen in prior laws, most notably in New Jersey and New York.

Employers are now asking whether they should forego cannabis tests altogether. Here are some issues for employers and their stakeholders to consider:

  • What does a positive test result even tell an employer? Because of how the body metabolizes the active compound in cannabis (tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC), it can, unlike alcohol, often present days or weeks after use, creating false positives for intoxication and/or impairment. Experts do not yet agree on how much THC must be present to create impairment. And since some states prohibit employers from taking action against someone based solely on a positive test result absent other indicia of impairment, employers are curious about the utility of a pre-employment cannabis test.
  • Some employers must test for cannabis. Companies that are regulated by or do business with the federal government may be required to test for cannabis. Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive positions, such as commercial motor vehicle drivers, pilots, and pipeline employees, are subject to mandatory alcohol and drug screening. The DOT has issued separate bulletins reminding DOT-regulated employers and their employees that it “remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana,” even for medicinal use. Government contractors may need to review their contracts to see if they mandate cannabis testing.
  • Safety is an important consideration. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act’s “general duty clause” mandates that employers furnish “employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to its employees.” Further, according to the National Safety Council, employees who are impaired by cannabis present a safety risk in the workplace, particularly if they work in safety-sensitive positions, where an impairment will put the employee and others at risk of serious physical harm or death. On account of the risks to occupational safety and health posed by workplace cannabis use, the National Safety Council advises that employers adopt a zero-tolerance policy for cannabis use in safety-sensitive positions. That said, such a policy might conflict with state or local cannabis laws that may not contain exemptions for safety-sensitive positions. Employers concerned about safety may wish to continue reasonable suspicion and post-accident cannabis testing even if they eliminate the drug from their pre-employment panel.
  • Federal contractors must maintain a drug-free workplace. However, the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act (DFWA) is silent on drug testing. Instead, it merely requires that a government contractor have a clear drug-free workplace policy that reminds employees that possession, distribution, and use of controlled substances are prohibited in the workplace. Because the law focuses on possession and use in the workplace, and not drug testing, there arguably may be no conflict between the DFWA and a state or local cannabis law, making it possible for a government contractor to modify its drug testing practices while still complying with the DFWA.
  • Testing may run afoul of state or local cannabis or “lawful activities” or “lawful products” laws. New York and Montana became the latest states to make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an applicant or employee for using cannabis outside of work. Recently, the New York Department of Labor announced its position that all pre-employment cannabis tests are unlawful, with no exception or consideration for those applying to work in safety-sensitive positions. Philadelphia also prohibits pre-employment cannabis testing and Nevada prohibits an employer from taking action based on a positive cannabis test result (both recognize exceptions for safety-sensitive jobs). California recently considered legislation banning most pre-employment cannabis testing and, thus, we can expect these types of restrictions to arise in other jurisdictions.
  • Accommodating medical cannabis use. Most states have medical cannabis laws and, as mentioned above, some are allowing applicants and employees to sue under a state disability discrimination law, with a few courts even holding that an employer may have to consider accommodating cannabis use for medicinal purposes. And while the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require employers to accommodate cannabis, employers still must engage in an interactive dialogue for the disability.
  • Job market considerations. As public opinion has changed and more Americans are using cannabis for either recreational or medicinal purposes, employers are finding it difficult to attract and retain talented workers. Employers faced with this dilemma might reconsider their stance on cannabis, especially for positions that do not pose a safety risk to others.

Conclusion

This rapidly evolving legal landscape presents new challenges for employers, especially multi-state employers. Employers must balance several competing issues, including complying with conflicting federal, state, and local laws, maintaining a safe work environment, protecting applicants’ and employees’ privacy and other legal rights, and attracting and retaining quality talent. Employers considering discontinuing cannabis testing should work with experienced counsel to discuss and weigh the various considerations discussed above. Employers also should review their workplace drug testing policies to be sure they comply with existing and soon to be effective state and local laws.

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

State legalization bills are the topic of the week.  We return to South Dakota to see how a legalization bill is progressing (or not).  Maryland also has a legalization bill moving through its legislature.  Virginia’s bill on adult-use sales seems to have died.  Rhode Island joins the legalization wave.  And finally, South Park takes a look at the Colorado cannabis industry and social equity.

south dakota

Things looked bleak for an adult-use cannabis bill in South Dakota, but never say never!  All seemed lost when a House committee dismissed the bill early in the week.  And then, using a procedure called (and I’m not making this up) a “smoke out,” the House resuscitated the bill!  As I seem to say every time we discuss the Mount Rushmore State, further bulletins as events warrant.

maryland

Two bills are making their way through the Maryland legislature.  One, HB 837, would legalize possession of marijuana by adults and allow home-grow.  This bill would go into effect if the other passes. That’s HB 1, a legalization ballot measure for the November 2022 election.  Both bills passed the state House late last week, with strong support, although largely on party lines.  The bills now head to the Senate.

virginia

Oh, what a difference an election makes.  Staying in the mid-Atlantic region, we see that Virginia has problems enacting its state sales legislation.  A bill to open the state’s retail industry passed the Democratic-controlled Senate earlier this month, but has now died in the Republican-led House.  Adjournment is a little over a week away, so it’s highly unlikely anything will happen this session.

rhode island

Rhode Island is surrounded by states where marijuana is legal; could this be the year they join their neighbors?  Lawmakers introduced bills to allow adult-use cannabis in both the House and the Senate this week.  As we’ve seen over the years, that’s merely the first step in a long journey, but the prospects look good right now.

and finally

South Park has featured cannabis-themed plotlines for a while now; one of the characters owns a weed business.  Recently, the show took a look at the Colorado market and the issue of racial equity in the industry.  Showrunners have also announced that the fictional business, Tegridy Farms, will come out with actual cannabis products in the future.

Programming note: I’ll be on vacation next week, so the next issue of The Week in Weed will appear on March 18.

Until then, stay safe and be well everyone!