Going in to this election, the possession and use of medical marijuana was illegal in Oklahoma. However, arguments against cannabis legalization have now gone up in smoke. The Oklahoma voters have spoken by enacting State Question (SQ) 788, which now makes it legal to grow, sell, and use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Under the law, adults with a medical marijuana license would be authorized to, among other things, possess up to three ounces of marijuana on their person, six flowering plants, seventy two ounces of edibles, and one ounce of concentrated marijuana derived from the plant. SQ 788 will go into effect 30 days from June 26, 2018. Continue Reading Oklahoma Creates a Buzz by Legalizing Medical Marijuana

Amidst a public disagreement between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), announced introduction of a bipartisan bill to protect states with pot-friendly laws against federal prosecution. The bill, introduced on June 7, 2018 and called the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act” or the “STATES Act”  proposes to protect state cannabis industries from the ire of federal drug enforcement authorities. A companion bill also has been introduced in the House.  The full text of the Senate bill, S. 3032, is available here, and the corresponding House bill, H.R. 6043, is available here. Continue Reading Will President Trump Support a Bipartisan Congressional Effort to Protect State Marijuana Laws?

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

The big news this week comes from north of the border, as Canada moves one step closer to cannabis legalization.

In a 52-29 vote on Tuesday afternoon, the Senate advanced bill C-45 for the last time, accepting changes put forward in the House of Commons and sending the bill onwards for Royal Assent.

Recreational marijuana use will soon be legal in Canada after the Senate passed a “historic” bill on Tuesday with a vote of 52-29.

But there was also some news here in the U.S., as New York City changes the way it will handle people smoking marijuana in public and New York State is looking at legalizing recreational use.

By September 1st, the majority of New Yorkers found smoking in public to receive criminal summonses which will help reduce marijuana arrests by about 10,000 per year.

A broad turnaround on the issue by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo could pave the way for New York to join a roster of states that have already legalized the drug, including California and Colorado.

And in our continuing look at politicians who support marijuana, we turn our attention to Texas.

Texas Republicans have come out in support of marijuana decriminalization in their official party platform.

 

On June 14, 2018, the Vermont Attorney General released its “Guide to Vermont’s Laws on Marijuana in the Workplace,” which can be found here. The Guide is aimed at assisting Vermont employers in navigating the state’s new recreational marijuana law, although it also addresses the state’s medical marijuana law, disability discrimination law, and drug testing law. Continue Reading Vermont Attorney General Releases “Marijuana in the Workplace” Guidance

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

Ohio’s medical marijuana market was set to open in September, but there’s been a delay.

Ohio had set a Sept. 8 deadline to have a fully operational medical marijuana market. But the state confirmed this week what industry observers have predicted for a while: It’s not going to happen.

In fact, it could take weeks more before medicinal weed is available for patients. Even then, it’s likely to be available only in limited quantities.

More politicians express support for marijuana; the latest legislation seeks to prevent the federal government from interfering in states where it is legal.

The Senators’ Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act isn’t a legalization bill, but it would let states chart their own course on cannabis without fear of federal interference.

President Donald Trump said Friday that he was inclined to support a bipartisan effort in Congress to ease the U.S. ban on marijuana, a proposal that would dramatically reshape the nation’s legal landscape for pot users and businesses.

Industrial hemp may be on its way to full legalization.

The farm bill includes hemp legalization legislation that is backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.  McConnell made a case during Wednesday’s agriculture panel meeting for supporting the hemp legalization.

In our June 12 blog post, we reported on a potential acquisition in the cannabis industry:

As an illustration of the potential difficulties in an acquisition by a SPAC, in July 2017 it was announced that the publisher of High Times was going to be acquired by a SPAC, Origo Acquisition Corp. The merger has yet to be consummated, and Origo has scheduled a stockholder meeting for June 12 looking for approval to extend the time that Origo has to close a transaction before having to dissolve.

On June 12, 2018, Origo Acquisition Corporation obtained stockholder approval to amend its corporate charter to extend its deadline to consummate an acquisition from June 12, 2018 to September 12, 2018.  Origo had previously entered into a merger agreement with Hightimes Holding Corp., the publisher of High Times Magazine.  The amendment gives Origo an additional 3 months to consummate the merger.  As a special purpose acquisition company, if Origo does not consummate the merger with Hightimes, or another qualifying acquisition by September 12, 2018, it will be forced to liquidate.

A developing market for owners of cannabis businesses looking for a potential buyer are SPACs, special purpose acquisition companies.  SPACs raise money in public offerings with the purpose of acquiring companies, usually in a specified range of industries or located in a particular geographic area. The SPACs cannot have a particular target in mind at the time of the public offering.  Among some of the more recent SPACs with a cannabis industry focus, MTech Acquisition Corp. closed a public offering for $57.5 million in February 2018, and Cannabis Strategies Acquisition Corp. closed a CDN $134.75 million (approximately US $103.78 million) public offering in Canada in December 2017. This post looks at some of the issues involved that are unique to being acquired by a SPAC. Continue Reading SPACs as an Exit Strategy for Cannabis Businesses

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

Marijuana businesses have had real problems finding banking services, but that task may get easier in California.

In order to keep up with the state’s marijuana industry, the California State Senate approves of a measure that would create a bank for the newly legal economy.

The California Senate has advanced Senate Bill 930 — a.k.a. the Cannabis Limited Charter Banking and Credit Union Law — which seeks to establish new rules allowing California banks to serve businesses who are denied banking services due to their involvement in the still federally prohibited cannabis industry.

In other California news, finding insurance coverage may get easier as well.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones unveiled a program to provide property and liability coverage for marijuana dispensaries, storage facilities, processors, manufacturers, distributors, and other cannabis-related businesses operating in California.

Could North Carolina be the next state to legalize recreational marijuana?

North Carolina’s legislature is considering a pair of bills that would make it legal to possess up to four ounces of marijuana for personal use.

A Forsyth County legislator is sponsoring a Senate bill that would make it legal to possess up to four ounces of marijuana for personal use.

 

California’s AB 2069, a bill to require employers to accommodate medical cannabis users, recently failed to advance past committee.

We previously reported that the California legislature was considering AB 2069, the “Medical Cannabis Worker Protections Act,” a bill to amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act to require most employers to engage in the interactive process with and consider reasonable accommodations for cannabis users.

Yet, on May 25, 2018, the bill failed to advance past the Appropriations Committee. Instead, the bill was “held under submission,” which, according to the legislature’s website, means “there is an indication that the author and the committee members want to work on or discuss the bill further, but there is no motion for the bill to progress out of committee.” Whether the bill will be set for another hearing remains to be seen.

Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. As a result, and consistent with the California Supreme Court’s decision in Ross v. RagingWire Telecomm., Inc., which upheld the right of an employer not to hire an applicant who tested positive for marijuana recommended by his physician, employers can continue to rely on federal law and enforce their workplace substance abuse policies. That said, given the growing popularity of medical and recreational marijuana laws, which are being enacted from coast-to-coast, and the willingness of courts to hold that employers may have a duty to reasonably accommodate medical marijuana use, we do not expect the saga in California to end here.

In the meantime, given the recent passage of California’s recreational marijuana law, employers may want to consider reviewing and updating their substance abuse policies, including their drug-testing policies, to ensure they are clear as to their expectations of employee marijuana use. Employers also should continue to monitor developments in this evolving area of the law.

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

We’re about six weeks away from the legalization of marijuana in Canada, but Canadian marijuana stocks are already on the New York Stock Exchange.

Canopy Growth late Wednesday said it expects to begin trading on the NYSE tomorrow, making it one of two Canadian pure-play marijuana stocks to list on a major U.S. exchange.

The only pureplay marijuana stock with any shot at being added to the S&P 500 anytime soon is Canadian-based Canopy Growth Corp.

In Florida, a circuit court judge has ruled a medical marijuana smoking ban unconstitutional.

A Florida judge has ruled the state’s ban on smoking medical cannabis unconstitutional, calling the Legislature-approved ban “invalid and unenforceable.”

In a move that could potentially provide an even bigger boost to growers and retailers in one of the country’s fastest-growing markets, a Florida judge ruled the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana is unconstitutional.

Cannabis is apparently not immune from the laws of supply and demand, as proven by the situation in Oregon.

When Oregon lawmakers created the state’s legal marijuana program, they had one goal in mind above all else: to convince illicit pot growers to leave the black market.

State regulators say Oregon produced enough recreational cannabis last year to supply every adult resident with more than 5 ounces (140 grams) of legal marijuana.

And finally, birthday greetings to Tommy Chong, who, believe it or not, recently turned 80.

Yeah man, Tommy Chong says he always knew he’d live to see the day marijuana legalization would be sweeping the country.