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

First of all, are you headed to CannaVest West this month? Catch Seyfarth’s Stan Jutkowitz on the July 23rd panel discussing “Cannabis Real Estate: What You Should Know Before Buying, Selling or Leasing Property for Cannabis and Hemp Use.”

The big news this week was the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on cannabis laws and the racial disparity in their enforcement.  See a summary here, and the full hearing, along with witness statements, at the Committee’s website.

Meanwhile, on the state level, activists are working to put recreational marijuana initiatives on the 2020 ballot in Arizona, Arkansas and Montana (where there are not one, but two campaigns).  Obviously, we’ll be following these activities closely.

In other state news, Hawaii has decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis, after legalization attempts there failed earlier in the year.  Shades of New York…

And low THC cannabis oil is now legal in Kansas, which otherwise has some of the most restrictive laws in the country.

Turning our attention to the international arena, a college in Israel is now offering a bachelor’s degree in medical marijuana.  And in New Zealand, the government has released proposed medical cannabis regulations, looking to start a program in 2020.

The concern over how legalization would effect marijuana use by teenagers appears in many campaigns opposing more widespread availability of cannabis.  Now, a new study seems to indicate that use by teens has dropped in those states that have legalized adult use.

Finally, if you’re interested in the intersection of marijuana and religion, have a listen to this podcast.  Sister Kate has founded a group called Sisters of the Valley, a group of nuns who grow cannabis in California.

See you next week!

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

Let’s start this week with the federal government.  A bipartisan group of Senators has introduced a bill that would promote marijuana and CBD research.   In the House, Rep. Nydia Velázquez recently introduced a bill that would allow cannabusinesses to get SBA loans.

But the action is not all in the legislative branch.  The Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the tax provisions of section 280E.  You may recall that this section prevents tax credits or deductions going to those dealing in illegal drugs; the marijuana industry would very much like that section to not apply to them.

Meanwhile, several states recently legalized hemp and low THC oil.  Florida will start producing commercial hemp, and it’s now legal to possess low THC cannabis oil in Kansas.  In Louisiana, residents may now use industrial hemp, with some restrictions.

As for New Mexico, out-of-state patients do not qualify for a medical cannabis card, but since a new panel will begin advising the governor on recreational marijuana legislation, that may not matter.

But what’s happening in North Dakota, you ask?  Supporters of adult-use cannabis, undaunted by their defeat just last year, are preparing another ballot initiative for the 2020 election.

And in Minnesota, Alzheimer’s disease is now a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.  But sales of medical cannabis in West Virginia probably won’t happen until 2021 or 2022.  What’s the reason for the delay?  Lack of banking services.

Speaking of banking, the American Bankers Association sent a letter to regulators, asking for clarity on rules governing financial services for hemp businesses.

Election season is in full swing in the U.S.  Are there people with cannabis connections running for office?  Why, yes there are!  Barry Grissom is running for the U.S. Senate from Kansas, and Bill Levin is running for Governor of Indiana.

And finally, Gene Simmons has opened a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles.  It’s call, of course, the KISSpensary.

See you next week!

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

Our first big story is legalization in Illinois.  The law takes effect on January 1, 2020.  That makes 11 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized recreational cannabis.

If you’re wondering why Illinois has succeeded where New York and New Jersey failed, the Marijuana Business Daily has a great piece discussing that very phenomenon.

There was some movement in New York, however.  The legislature decriminalized cannabis, once legalization failed.

In other state action, Maine has approved regulations for its recreational marijuana industry.  Sales are expected to begin in 2020.  In New Hampshire, the governor signed a bill allowing physicians’ assistants to prescribe medical cannabis, and in Massachusetts, regulators have approved proposed rules allowing marijuana cafes and delivery services.

Moving out west, Oregon would very much like to sell its surplus cannabis in other states, but federal law stands in its way.  The governor signed a bill allowing the export of marijuana, but there’s no federal policy allowing interstate transport.

Significant action happened in the U.S. House, as legislators passed an amendment to a spending bill to prohibit the Justice Department from taking action against marijuana businesses in states where it is legal.  The Senate must also approve this rider, so no promises this will appear in the final bill.

We don’t often mention Idaho in this column, as its policies are among the strictest in the nation.  But that might be about to change.  Advocates of legalization have filed an initiative to put medical marijuana on the 2020 ballot.  Assuming the initiative is approved, the next step is collecting signatures.  Stay tuned for further developments.

And in international news, Ireland has legalized medical marijuana, and Switzerland is looking to do the same.  In Canada, the first mobile app marketplace for alcohol (the aptly named Boozer) is looking to expand into the cannabis space.

See you next week!

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

First, we have an entry for the “Better Luck Next Time” files.  New York failed to pass a legalization deal.  Perhaps cannabis proponents will have better luck in 2020.

Their neighbors to the south are making some progress on medical marijuana expansion.  But the jury’s still out on whether New Jersey governor Phil Murphy will sign the legislation.

Directing our gaze further south, Mississippi‘s Medical Marijuana 2020 has two-thirds the number of signatures they need to put medical marijuana on the ballot.  The deadline to turn in petitions is September.

State attorneys general have been quite vocal about cannabis lately.  Now Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is calling for the state to decriminalize marijuana.

But what about hemp, marijuana’s straight arrow cousin?  Texas has legalized it, and the Postal Service will ship it, but banking is still a problem.

Speaking of banking, the House Appropriations Committee has passed the 2020 Financial Services and General Government bill, which includes protections for banks serving marijuana companies in states where cannabis is legal.  These protections last only one year.

Other House activities surrounding cannabis this week included a hearing before the Small Business Committee on the difficulties the industry has dealing with the Small Business Administration.

Higher education has taken notice of marijuana.  The University of Connecticut is now offering an online cannabis horticulture class.  The Cleveland School of Cannabis (please tell me their cheer is Go Joints!) is expanding into Columbus.  Heading in the opposite direction are the community colleges of West Virginia.  In order to qualify for free tuition, students must pass a drug test, and THC is one of the banned substances.

Finally, we have news of a new campaign from the Edmonton Police Service.  “Put your Skunk in the Trunk” is the name of their effort to get people to keep their marijuana stowed away legally.  Note: you really want to click on the link to see the poster they’re using.

See you next week!

Following closely on the heels of a similar law in New York City, effective January 1, 2020, it will be unlawful for Nevada employers to reject a job applicant who tests positive for cannabis on a pre-employment drug test. While there is debate as to whether some medical and recreational cannabis laws, including in Maine, allow an employer to take action based on off-duty or off-premises cannabis use, when it comes to job applicants, Nevada law could not be more clear. Continue Reading Nevada Becomes the First State to Restrict Employer Use of Pre-Employment Cannabis Tests

On February 19, 2019, the Michigan Court of Appeals considered whether a job applicant rejected for a position due to a positive test result for marijuana could sue under the state’s Medical Marihuana Act (MMA). At issue was the following from the MMA:

A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card is not subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act . . . .”

In an unpublished decision, the court affirmed dismissal of the complaint finding that the MMA “does not provide an independent right protecting the medical use of marijuana in all circumstances, nor does it create a protected class for users of medical marijuana.” (The court converted the decision to a published decision on April 23, 2019.) In addition, the court noted that because the City “would have been able to terminate plaintiff’s employment at any time after her employment began for any or no reason, it logically follows that the [City] could rescind its conditional offer of employment at any time and for any or no reason at all.” In other words, the plaintiff had no “right” to a job with the City and, thus, had no basis to bring suit under the MMA. Of course, this leaves open the question of whether the case would have turned out differently had the plaintiff been offered something other than an at-will position. Importantly, nothing in the decision suggests that its analysis is limited to public entities and, thus, private employers may benefit from its reasoning as well.

The medical cannabis laws in the United States vary greatly. Some states, like Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts, have ruled that an employee testing positive for cannabis can bring suit against an employer for enforcing their drug-free workplace policies. Additional states provide employment protections to medical cannabis users, including Arizona, New York, and others. Thus, it is difficult for employers to have a “one-size-fits-all” policy regarding cannabis use. Employers are encouraged to work with experienced employment counsel before taking action against a medical cannabis user and continue to monitor developments in this evolving area of law.

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

We start out west, where California may not wait for the feds to act on CBD.  The state is in the process of legalizing the use of CBD and permitting the sale of hemp-derived CBD in food, beverages and cosmetics.

And it’s not just the states who want in on legal CBD.  Kroger is now selling CBD topicals (which are legal, unlike CBD-infused food, drink, cosmetics, etc.) in 17 states.

In New Mexico, lawmakers have added opioid addiction to the list of conditions allowing the use of medical marijuana.  But is there any proof that medical cannabis can help to reduce opioid addiction?  A study that gave a tentative “yes” as an answer to that question, has been expanded and now seems to indicate the answer is “no.”  For those of you brave enough to read the actual Stanford study, it’s posted here.

But could marijuana help with treatment for metabolic disorders?  UC Riverside has just received a grant for a three-year study to find out.  Let’s not make any predictions until all the data is in.

Will Delaware be the next state to legalize recreational cannabis?  As we’ve reported before, a bill to do so is moving through the legislature, but the governor opposes it, so it’s definitely not a sure thing.

In Alabama, a study group has been authorized by the governor to look into legalizing medical marijuana.  While it’s unlikely that any action will result in 2019, 2020 may be a big year in that regard.

Turning our attention to Europe, a committee of senators in France have agreed in principle to approve medical cannabis.  Nothing’s final yet, but indications are that this will happen.  Meanwhile in Italy, despite a ruling against “cannabis light,” the low THC market continues to flourish.

See you next week!


Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign a comprehensive recreational cannabis bill.  While the “Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act” contains extensive provisions preserving an employer’s right to ban cannabis and otherwise have a “zero tolerance” substance abuse policy, there are potential traps for the unwary and, thus, employers should carefully consider how the new law will impact their existing substance abuse and drug testing policies and procedures.  Continue Reading Half Baked: Illinois Legislature Includes Some Employer Protections in New Recreational Cannabis Law – But Beware the Traps

Federal trademark registrations are now possible to obtain for some hemp-related trademarks.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) recent guidance, Examination Guide 1-19  “Examination of Marks for Cannabis and Cannabis-Related Goods and Services after Enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill” issued on May 2, 2019 (Guide 1-19), clarifies the procedure for examining applications for marks covering cannabis and cannabis-derived goods and services in light of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334 (also known as the “2018 Farm Bill”).  Guide 1-19 does not change the requirements for obtaining a trademark registration, but instead explains that hemp-related federal trademark registrations (in certain instances) are not barred as a matter of law.  Continue Reading USPTO Allows Hemp-related Trademarks on or after December 20, 2018