As a number of states and the District of Columbia have moved to permit possession, use and sale of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes and the business of legalized cannabis distribution has grown exponentially, federal law banning such activity remains unchanged.  Deeming the trend in state law irrelevant, federal immigration authorities have in fact moved in the opposite direction.  Last month, on April 19, US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced policy guidance “to clarify that violations of federal controlled substance law, including violations involving marijuana, are generally a bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization, even where that conduct would not be an offense under state law.” (uscis-issues-policy-guidance-clarifying-how-federal-controlled-substances-law-applies-naturalization-determinations) Continue Reading Too Natural for Naturalization: Even Decriminalized Marijuana Can be a Bar to US Citizenship

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

Let’s start, as we so often do, with the states.   Nebraska has decided against legalizing medical marijuana.  Texas is moving towards legalizing hemp.  Iowa is one step ahead of them – hemp cultivation will begin in 2020.

Delaware lawmakers have introduced a recreational legalization bill, but since the governor is opposed, that doesn’t seem terribly likely to succeed.  And speaking of Delaware, Presidential candidate Joe Biden (D – Del.) has come out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana but has not indicated support for legalization.

From the “here we go again” files, New York has a new marijuana legalization bill to consider.  Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, a marijuana legalization bill has been sent back to committee for further study.

The big news on the federal level is the number of comments on CBD products and how they should be regulated.  737 as of Wednesday morning, and with the deadline set for early July, there will doubtless be many more.  In other federal news, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has said he’s open to the idea of legal cannabis banking, but does not think marijuana businesses should be eligible for opportunity zone tax breaks.

Banking is one of our favorite topics; this week we learn that California is considering the creation of special banks to handle marijuana income.  But it’s not just the Golden State that wants cannabis banking; all 50 state banking associations have signed on to a letter to the U.S. Senate urging the legalization of banking services for marijuana businesses where they are legal.

And the National Football League is now looking into cannabis for pain management.  That would represent a shift from their current policy.

See you next week!

 

The Illinois General Assembly has been working on a marijuana legalization bill this session.  The Senate Bill would protect employer rights to ban marijuana and discipline employees for use.

Across the country, states are moving to legalize medical and recreational marijuana.  In states that legalize recreational marijuana, employers and drug testing services have seen significant increases in positivity rates for marijuana metabolites.  Wider marijuana use will require employers to take action to ensure safe work environments for their employees, especially in safety sensitive settings.  Drug policies must be updated and must address discrimination concerns.  To that end, we are closely monitoring new forms of discrimination claims from medical marijuana users and regarded-as disabled employees.  See our recent blog concerning a related Arizona court decision. Continue Reading Illinois Marijuana Legislation Update: Senate Bill Would Protect Employers’ Rights

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

Chuck Schumer and Hakeem Jeffries are reintroducing the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which would legalize marijuana nationwide.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for this bill to pass though.  Although many Democrats have indicated their support for legalization, Republicans generally and Senator Mitch McConnell specifically control the Senate, and they are not so favorably inclined.

Turning our attention abroad, the Netherlands is going to test out commercial cultivation of adult-use marijuana.  Coffee shops offer marijuana to the public, but supplying the shops is illegal.  This new system would resolve that dilemma.

Italy, however, is a different story.  Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has promised to close shops selling “cannabis light” (cannabis with THC levels below 0.2%).  The move may be more for show in the upcoming European Parliament elections, and industry leaders reacted with more disdain than dismay.

This week brought news on the medical marijuana front from a variety of states.  In Wisconsin, the Finance Committee has rejected the governor’s proposal to legalize medical marijuana.  In Alabama, on the other hand, the full state Senate has approved a medical cannabis bill.  The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

Even Nebraska, one of the most restrictive states as regards marijuana, is making a move to allow medical cannabis.  The Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that now moves to the full legislature.  Fun fact: Nebraska has the country’s only unicameral legislature, so one vote will suffice to pass this bill.

From Missouri, we have both banking and medical marijuana news.  Triad Bank will offer services to cannabusinesses.  And the state’s comment period for medical marijuana rules closed this week.  Final rules are scheduled for early June.

In New Jersey, full legalization stalled earlier this year, and the governor promised to expand medical marijuana by May.  And Gov. Murphy kept that promise.  Meanwhile, the legislature has now abandoned its legalization efforts, so adult-use will have to wait until a 2020 referendum.

Maryland has legalized medical marijuana edibles and the District of Columbia is attempting to legalize a market for its already legal marijuana.

In North Dakota, the governor has signed a bill that lessens the penalties for cannabis possession.  Note: it’s important not to mix up your Dakotas – you’ll recall that South Dakota recently declined to legalize hemp.

See you next week!

 

While it has been a challenge for employers to keep up with the explosion of medical and recreational marijuana laws spreading across the nation, employers have taken some comfort in that most of these states still grant employers the right to maintain a drug-free workplace and take action against those who test positive for marijuana, including rejecting job applicants testing positive for drugs. Yet, the tide seems to be shifting, with more courts granting pot smokers certain rights and finding that employers are required to comply with federal and state disability laws when confronted with medical marijuana users. Now it seems some jurisdictions are stepping in and granting certain employment protections to off-duty marijuana users. Continue Reading New York City Bans Pre-Employment Marijuana Tests

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

Starting our coverage on the federal level, the Department of Veterans Affairs is opposing three bills that would facilitate veteran access to medical marijuana in states where it is legal.  We last wrote about the “Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act” in Week in Weed here.  Also, 30 members of Congress have asked for more federal research into medical marijuana.

In the banking realm, 33 state attorneys general (along with AGs from four territories and the District of Columbia) have signed on to a letter to Congressional leaders in favor of cannabis banking reform.  Eight of the signatories are Republican.

Our look at state activity begins in Illinois this week, as Governor Pritzker has proposed a marijuana legalization plan.  The plan would include retail sales, expungement of previous convictions and place an emphasis on social equity.

Meanwhile, a legalization bill has passed the Connecticut House Finance Committee.  It is now headed to the full House floor.

Staying on the East Coast, Vermont and the District of Columbia have legal recreational marijuana, but neither jurisdiction permits the sale of the drug.  Both of them are trying to change that.  In the District, Mayor Muriel Bowser (who joins the “Politicians Now In Favor of Legalized Marijuana” Club) has proposed a cannabis sales program.  Note that the Mayor is not seeking to market to tourists.  In Vermont, the State Senate passed a bill setting up a marketplace a while ago, it’s now passed the House Government Operations Committee.  It’s got to go through another committee and then the full House, before heading to the Governor’s office.  Note that the Governor is not enthusiastic about this idea, so it may come to nothing.

In Texas, another piece of legislation to increase the number of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana has been passed by the state House and is on the way to the state Senate.

One question that comes up often in the cannabis sphere is how helpful marijuana could be in alleviating the opioid crisis.  Two states have taken opposite views.  In Rhode Island, the Health Department has declined to add opioid dependency to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.  On the other hand, in Colorado, legislators have recently approved a bill that would allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids.

And finally, if you’ve ever thought that the only thing better than an Oreo cookie would be a CBD-infused Oreo cookie, you may be in luck.

See you next week!

Marijuana is estimated to be a $10 billion industry and rapidly growing. Almost all of it is conducted in cash. Although legal in thirty three states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Accordingly, financial institutions that handle proceeds from a transaction involving the distribution, manufacture or sale of marijuana would be handling illegal proceeds in violation of both federal money laundering statutes and banking regulations that prohibit such institutions from participating in any transaction or engaging in any relationship involving illegal proceeds. Continue Reading Will Banks be Able to Play it SAFE with Marijuana Related Businesses?

Regular readers will recall that in March we blogged about cannabis-related trademarks.  We now have an update:

On May 2, 2019, the USPTO distributed an Examination Guide updating their practices after passage of the 2018 Farm Bill on December 20, 2018. The Farm Bill removes “hemp” from the definition of “marijuana” in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), so now hemp-based products, like CBD, with less than 0.3% THC are no longer controlled substances. Accordingly, for applications filed after December 20, 2018, the USPTO will not refuse applications on the basis of the goods being unlawful under federal law if the application covers hemp-related goods and services now legal under the CSA. If an application filed before December 20, 2018 for the applicable goods was refused but the application is still pending, the USPTO will allow the applicant to amend its filing date. Applicants should also note that some CBD products that are undergoing FDA testing are still unlawful under the CSA, and therefore applications covering those types of goods will still be refused. If these guidelines apply to you, you can find more information in the Examination Guide from the USPTO, available at the link above.

 

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

There were several interesting developments this week on the federal level.  We’ll start off with the news that the Senate may not take up the issue of banking in the marijuana industry.  Sen. Mike Crapo (R. Idaho) won’t commit to holding hearings on the SAFE Banking Act, which is currently under consideration in the House.

In other federal news, a marijuana patent suit will proceed towards a jury trial, after a judge denied a motion to dismiss.  And a marijuana staffing agency employee may not use bankruptcy protection because her firm has ties to the cannabis industry.  Note: the firm does not “touch the plant”; they merely provide a service to those who do.

So what’s been happening in the world of hemp, marijuana’s less controversial cousin, since the Farm Bill de-scheduled it?  Glad you asked, and the answer is quite a bit.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released guidelines for importing hemp seeds.  Imports are fine, so long as the plants produced will contain less than .3% THC.

There’s also been lots of activity on the state level, as many jurisdictions have moved to legalize hemp.  Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana and Hawaii all moved in the direction of allowing the product.  South Dakota, however, seems unlikely to join their number any time soon.

If you’re interested in an in-depth look at marijuana in Illinois, have a look at this series of articles from the University of Illinois and NPR Illinois.

In states that have already legalized recreational cannabis, the new trend is to allow home delivery.  Colorado and Massachusetts are both close to approving the service.  If we can have everything else brought directly to our doors, why should marijuana be any different?

And finally, a marijuana investor recently gave Harvard and MIT $9M for the study of cannabinoids.  Clearly, the presence of cannabis on campus has changed…

See you next week!

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill on April 17, entitled Georgia’s Hope Act (HB 324), allowing in-state production and sale of marijuana oil for medical use. Before this bill, Georgia only allowed citizens with a narrow list of specific medical conditions to possess cannabis oil with less than five percent THC, but those patients had to cross state lines or purchase the oil by mail. Often the process of buying the oil was prohibitive and the patients could not obtain the oil, even if they had permission to use or possess it. The current count of patients on the registry allowed to own low-THC oil is less than 10,000. Some believe this is a low number compared to the number of eligible citizens, and that many people have not bothered to register because obtaining the drug is too difficult. The number of registrants is predicted to rise once the oil can be purchased in-state.

The bill is not an open door for producers, however. Georgia will convene a seven-member board to oversee the program, and the state will only grant up to six growing licenses to private companies. The bill also designates growing licenses for the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University. Georgia legislators made efforts to be inclusive by requiring that medical marijuana producers should include at least 20 percent “minority, women, and veteran owned business” as licensees and partners of any business licensed to cultivate.

In addition to the lift on the ban of production of cannabis oil, Georgia’s Hope Act allows pharmacists to sell the medical cannabis oil to authorized patients if the pharmacy is licensed by the State Pharmacy Board.

Kemp went to great lengths to emphasize that this bill is not part of a “slippery slope” toward allowing recreational use of marijuana in Georgia.