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

The Illinois licensing lottery takes center stage this week.  Several states may have ballot initiatives in 2022. Louisiana’s decriminalization law went into effect this week.  And finally, we introduce you to Cannabis the Cat.

illinois

The never-ending saga of Illinois’ cannabis licensing continues.  They finally issued licenses – good.  And now there’s yet another lawsuit over the next round of licensing – less good.

state ballot initiatives

Several states seek to join the list of adult-legal jurisdictions via 2022 ballot initiatives.  Idaho supporters can start collecting signatures.  Arkansas proponents are also busy getting John Hancocks from citizens.  In Missouri, “formatting issues” have been an issue for advocates.  Oklahoma may see two initiatives to put medical and adult-use in the state Constitution.  The Wyoming Secretary of State approved two initiatives: one on medical cannabis and one on decriminalization.  Stay tuned for more!

louisiana

As we reported back in June, Louisiana passed a decriminalization bill.  The law went into effect on Sunday, and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cedric Glover (D) launched a public awareness campaign to explain what you can and cannot do.  Based on the poster they’ve designed, it’s complicated.

and finally

If you’re looking for a way to explain marijuana to young people, perhaps Cannabis the Cat could help you out.  He’s a green cat who rides a magic carpet made of hemp, and you can join in his adventures with a storybook, a coloring book (because, of course), or a plush figure.

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 start off with an amendment to federal legislation that would protect state-legal cannabis programs.  Then we move on to the states, where Mississippi is holding hearings on medical marijuana.  Ohio’s legislature may take up adult-use legislation.  Could North Carolina also get in on the action?  And finally, there’s a restaurant where lobsters and cannabis mix.

protections for state-legal programs

An amendment to a federal appropriations bill protecting state-legal cannabis programs from federal interference gathered some steam this week.  The Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton-Lee amendment would prohibit Justice Department funds from being used to enforce federal law against marijuana in states where it is legal.  Additional cosponsors have signed on to the language, and it could come up for a vote next week.

mississippi

Work on a medical cannabis program continues in the Magnolia State.  Lawmakers are hashing out a bill that would establish a program similar to the one voters approved last November.  The governor has indicated that he will not call a special session to vote on the measure until he sees a bill he will sign.

ohio

The Coalition to Treat Marijuana Like Alcohol wants to see adult-use cannabis legalized in Ohio.  They are in the process of submitting a summary of their proposed legislation to the state’s Attorney General Dave Yost, along with 1,000 signatures.  If he approves the measure, the group will need to collect 133,000 signatures in order to compel the legislature to consider it.

north carolina

A medical cannabis program advanced in the North Carolina Senate recently, passing through the body’s Finance Committee.  It still has two more committees to get through, as well as a floor vote, before it goes to the House.  Support has been strong so far; we’ll see if the measure’s luck holds in future.

and finally

If you give cannabis to lobsters before cooking them, is that more humane?  A Maine restaurant claims it is, and there may be some science behind the idea.  Kudos to the Portland Press-Herald for the excellent headline.

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.

Illinois’ license lottery has some ups and downs.  There’s talk of a referendum on marijuana legalization in Maryland.  Lawmakers introduced a legalization bill in Ohio.  On the federal level, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy opined on decriminalization.  And finally, if cannabis newsletters were movie characters, which characters would they be?

illinois

It’s been a while since we’ve discussed Illinois’ lottery program for dispensary licenses, but the program is back in the news this week.  First, lotteries will begin next week – there will be three total.  Also, the state passed a law providing more licenses to minority applicants.  But, there’s a lawsuit over the process (stop me if this sounds familiar), so who knows how this will all play out.  Stay tuned…

maryland

Medical cannabis is legal in Maryland, and adult-use is not.  But there’s significant support for full legalization; it’s just a matter of how and when.  House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D) would like to see a referendum on the 2022 ballot.  Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) favors legislation that would go into effect sooner than that.  One thinks the prospect of legal sales in neighboring Virginia might lead to quicker action.

ohio

When one thinks of states most likely to legalize adult-use marijuana, Ohio doesn’t leap to mind.  Two state representatives, Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) look to change that.  Their bill would allow both personal and commercial cultivation and regulate sales.  Chances for passage don’t look great in the Republican controlled legislature.

vivek murthy

Usually when the Surgeon General is in the news, it’s because of COVID.  In what must have been a welcome change, Dr. Murthy spoke out on cannabis this week.  When asked about a new federal decriminalization bill on CNN, he said, “When it comes to decriminalization, I don’t think that there is value to individuals or to society to lock people up for marijuana use.”

and finally

A shot from the new movie, “The French Dispatch” has become a meme.  Tom Angell, of Marijuana Moment, has joined in the fun, identifying each character as a cannabis news outlet.  As a regular reader of all of these, I think he’s got them pegged pretty well.

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

Seyfarth Synopsis: On June 25, 2021, concluding that Iowa’s comprehensive drug testing statute requires employers to “substantially” comply with its mandates, the Iowa Supreme Court issued two separate decisions finding that employers violated the statute after terminating employees in response to failed drug tests. The decisions serve as important reminders to employers to ensure their drug testing policies and practices can withstand scrutiny in any jurisdiction.

Iowa’s drug testing statute

Iowa’s drug and alcohol testing statute is considered one of the more onerous and difficult to navigate in the nation (along with Maine and Minnesota). It includes numerous requirements that employers must follow to lawfully conduct pre-employment and employment drug and alcohol tests, including (but not limited to):

  • A requirement that employers implement a written policy that is distributed to employees (including the parents of any employees who are minors) and made available to job applicants and employees for review.
  • A requirement that employers establish an awareness program to inform employees of the dangers of drugs and alcohol in the workplace.
  • If the employer has at least 50 employees in Iowa, and if an employee with a confirmed positive alcohol test (1) has been working for at least 12 of the preceding 18 months, (2) agrees to rehabilitation and (3) has not previously violated the employer’s substance abuse policy, the employee must be given an opportunity to participate in rehabilitation in lieu of termination or other disciplinary action.
  • A requirement that supervisory personnel involved with drug or alcohol testing submit to two hours of initial training and, on an annual basis thereafter, a minimum of one hour of additional training. The training must address a number of topics, including information on how to recognize employee alcohol and drug abuse, documentation of such abuse, and referral of employees who abuse drugs or alcohol to the employer’s employee assistance program or the provision of other resources available to assist employees with substance abuse.

Two recent Iowa Supreme Court decisions demonstrate both the complexity and importance of complying with the statute.

Any notice of the right to a re-test must include the cost of the test

In Woods v. Charles Gabus Ford, Inc. (June 25, 2021), the employer terminated an employee after his random test result revealed the presence of methamphetamines. The employer sent the employee a letter that informed him of the drug test result and advised that he had the right to a confirmatory test provided that he paid for it. The letter explained that if the sample tested negative, the employer would reimburse him the cost of the confirmatory test. However, the letter did not, among other things, include the cost for the test.

In claiming that the employer failed to comply with the drug statute by, among other things, not specifying the cost of the confirmatory test, the plaintiff pointed to the Iowa Code, which states:

If a confirmed positive test result for drugs or alcohol for a current employee is reported to the employer by the medical review officer, the employer shall notify the employee in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the results of the test, the employee’s right to request and obtain a confirmatory test of the second sample . . . at an approved laboratory of the employee’s choice, and the fee payable by the employee to the employer for reimbursement of expenses concerning the test. The fee charged an employee shall be an amount that represents the costs associated with conducting the second confirmatory test, which shall be consistent with the employer’s cost for conducting the initial confirmatory test on an employee’s sample.

According to the court, substantial compliance with this portion of the statute means providing the employee with enough information to determine whether to request a confirmatory test. The “cost of a retest, even if one expects to be reimbursed upon being exonerated by a retest, is vital information for making an informed decision.” This was an especially important consideration for the employee given his assertion that “he was the sole provider for his children,” and without this information, he could not decide which option to choose. Having failed to include this vitally important piece of information in the notice, the court agreed with the plaintiff and remanded the decision to the lower court to calculate damages.

Court clarifies what it means for a job to be “safety-sensitive” under the statute

In Dix, et al. v. Casey’s General Stores, Inc. (June 25, 2021), the court considered, among other issues, what it means for a position to be considered “safety-sensitive” and, thus, subject to a random drug test. The Iowa Code allows an employer to conduct an “unannounced, suspicionless drug testing of employees selected from a predefined pool…” One possible pool could be “[a]ll employees at a particular work site who are in a pool of employees in a safety-sensitive position,” which is defined to mean “a job wherein an accident could cause loss of human life, serious bodily injury, or significant property or environmental damage, including a job with duties that include immediate supervision of a person in a job that meets the requirement of this paragraph.”

In the case, the employer admittedly treated the plaintiffs as being in safety-sensitive positions simply because they worked in a warehouse setting, regardless of their specific job duties. Two employees terminated for failed drug tests brought suit claiming they were not properly classified as working in “safety-sensitive” roles and, thus, should not have been tested in the first instance. The court agreed.

Borrowing from the definition of “safety-sensitive” in the context of drug testing by public agencies as well as Department of Transportation regulations, the court noted that the term “safety-sensitive” identifies employees who, “if performing their job functions while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, could pose such a risk of harm to people or damage to property that subjecting them to suspicionless drug testing is justified.” This being the case, it is not enough that an employee works in a particular environment. Instead, in determining whether a job falls under the “safety-sensitive” umbrella, the court reasoned that “employers must base their designations on the functions of the job an intoxicated person could be performing that would lead to the type of serious accident identified, not just the environment in which the job is performed.” Because neither plaintiff worked in a safety-sensitive position at the time of the test, they were awarded economic damages, which the Court upheld.

Considerations

States are enacting recreational and medical marijuana laws at an increasing pace. Moreover, marijuana use is on the rise across the country. These two considerations have caused employers to place greater emphasis on their drug testing policies, especially for safety-sensitive roles. The Iowa Supreme Court’s decisions confirm that some jurisdictions have very detailed and specific requirements that employers must follow to lawfully test their applicants and employees for drugs. Employers in all jurisdictions, especially in those with drug testing laws on the books, would be well-advised to consider a fresh look at their drug and alcohol testing policies to ensure not only compliance with the applicable statutes but also that their policies fit the company’s overall views and goals about applicant and employee marijuana use.

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

Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a federal marijuana legalization bill.  Members of Congress exchanged views with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency over cannabis and the Olympics. Tennessee took a first step towards legalization.  Cannabis research could be protected in new legislation.  And finally, this was the week of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, and of course, there was a cannabis angle.

federal legalization bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) unveiled this week draft legislation that would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis on the federal level.  Not that many years ago, introducing such a bill would have been unthinkable.  Now, it’s just unthinkable that it will pass in the Senate.

olympics

As we reported and discussed earlier, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suspended Sha’Carri Richardson after she tested positive for marijuana.  This spurred Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to write a letter to the USADA, requesting a change in the agency’s policy.  In addition, Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) sent a similar letter, asking the USADA to reconsider its decision.  The agency responded, indicating that they would like to allow Richardson to compete, but they have to follow World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules.  And which country urged the WADA to add cannabis to the list of prohibited substances?  That would be the United States.  Awkward.

tennessee

The Volunteer State is not among those that have legalized cannabis.  In fact, only medical CBD is permitted in the state at present.  Rep. Bruce Griffey (R) would like to find out if the public has any interest in changing that.  He introduced a bill recently that would put three non-binding questions on legalization to the voters in 2022.  Further bulletins as events warrant.

Research

Colleges and universities would be able to conduct research on marijuana under a new appropriations bill, currently under consideration in the House.  This is a long way from passing, but it’s yet another sign of how times have changed.

and finally

When the All-Star Game moved from Atlanta to Denver this year, it marked the first time the Midsummer Classic was held in a state with a legal marijuana market.  It will not surprise you to learn that cannabis companies made the most of this opportunity.

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.

South Dakota may vote on marijuana again in 2022.  Mississippi’s Supreme Court won’t reconsider its decision on the 2020 ballot initiative.  The House Appropriations Committee passed a bill that does not prohibit DC from allowing cannabis sales.  The intersection of marijuana and sports made the news this week.  And finally, you can get cannabis seeds in Virginia.

south dakota

When last we visited the Mount Rushmore State, adult-use cannabis was the subject of litigation.  Supporters of the 2020 ballot initiative have decided to get started on a new initiative for 2022.  South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws released four new measures to legalize, filing them with the state’s Legislative Research Council.  Of course, they’re hoping none of them will be necessary, but clearly, they feel it’s better to be safe than sorry.

mississippi

In Mississippi, it looks like a legislative special session is the only path forward for medical cannabis.  The Supreme Court officially rejected a call to reconsider their decision disallowing the 2020 ballot initiative.

appropriations

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year 2022 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill.  Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) praised the bill for what it did not include: a rider prohibiting DC from setting up an adult-use cannabis market.  We’re still a long way from seeing dispensaries in our nation’s capital, but this is a step in that direction.

olympics

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the biggest stories of the Tokyo Olympics – the barring of Sha’Carri Richardson from the US track and field team.  See our take on this issue here.

and finally

Virginia Marijuana Justice celebrated the commonwealth’s legalization of adult-use cannabis by giving away marijuana plant seeds.  Although fewer commuters were at the Rosslyn Metro station than in the pre-COVID days, there was still a line!

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

Seyfarth Synopsis: An American athlete has been suspended for one month for testing positive for marijuana and violating the Anti-Doping Rule, putting her ability to represent the United States in the Olympic games in jeopardy.

American athlete, Sha’Carri Richardson, set herself apart on June 19, 2021, by winning the 100-meter race in 10.86 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials. Richardson was projected to be a high performing contender in the Olympics in Toyko later this month. Unfortunately, due to testing positive for 11-nor-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (Carboxy-THC), which is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, marijuana, and hashish, that may not happen.

On July 2, 2021, the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced that Richardson has accepted a one-month sanction for violating the Anti-Doping Rule. The ineligibility began on June 28, 2021 and by accepting the sanction, Richardson “disqualified, and she forfeits any medal, points, and prizes,” USADA said in a statement. Richardson is the second track and field athlete to accept a one-month sanction for testing positive for THC in recent months. Kahmari Montgomery tested positive as a result of a sample obtained at the Miramar Invitational in April.

With more and more states legalizing cannabis, there is a prevailing question of whether the use of cannabis and hashish should be considered a punishable offense for athletes. In fact, in Oregon, where Richardson used cannabis, it is legal for adults to possess and use recreational cannabis within specified limits. According to the Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, “there exists no scientific consensus that the acute effects of marijuana enhance athletic performance,” NORML said in a statement. Recently, the National Football League and the NFL Players Association have taken it a step further and are now offering to give $1 million to fund up to five research studies on pain management and the effect of cannabinoids on athletic performance in elite football players. The scientific research could produce current data that could potentially lead to breakthroughs and consistent rules regarding cannabis in the sports industry.

Richardson was set to become the first American woman to win the Olympic 100-meter title since Gail Devers in 1996. Regardless of whether she is cleared to compete in Tokyo, this may push the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to take a hard look at its policies and rules surrounding the use of cannabis.

 

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

This week we have lots of state action – there’s news from Rhode Island, Mississippi, Delaware, South Dakota, North Carolina and Missouri.  But the feds have been taking action talking about taking action too.  In international news, the United Nations comes out against cannabis advertising.  And finally, you know an industry has gone mainstream when NASCAR accepts their sponsorship.

state action

We’ve got lots of state news this week; some get closer to legalizing, some get further away.

RHODE ISLAND

As we reported last week, a legalization measure passed the Senate, but things are moving more slowly in the House.  There are three different bills under consideration, and it may be fall before lawmakers can agree on final language.

MISSISSIPPI

It looks like the legislature will meet again this summer to pass legislation to set up a medical marijuana program.  The governor supports the idea of a special session, but wants legislators to work out language before it begins, so the session doesn’t drag on.

DELAWARE

Perhaps 2022 will be the First State’s year to pass a cannabis bill, because it’s going nowhere in 2021.  Disagreements over equity funding are part of the problem, but the difficulty really lies in the fact that 75% of House members would have needed to support it.  Plus, the governor is not a fan of legalization, so who knows what would have happened, even if they’d passed a bill?

SOUTH DAKOTA

Even once voters pass legalization, that doesn’t mean sales begin right away.  For every Arizona, there’s a South Dakota.  While adult-use cannabis is tied up in court, medical marijuana is moving ahead.  The state’s Department of Health released draft rules for a medical program this week.  They go to the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee, which will most likely look at them in September.  The state’s medical cannabis program went into effect yesterday.

NORTH CAROLINA

Medical marijuana got a hearing recently in North Carolina, with witnesses attesting to the value of cannabis in dealing with chronic pain and PTSD.  The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the legislation, which now moves to the Finance Committee.

MISSOURI

After COVID put an end to plans for a 2020 ballot initiative, proponents of adult-use are looking at a 2022 drive.  New Approach Missouri plans to release language in the next few weeks, and likes their chances at the ballot box.

federal (discussion of) action

So with all this action in the states, has anything been happening on the federal level?

CONGRESS

A House subcommittee passed a bill that would allow the District of Columbia to legalize marijuana sales and afford some protection to banks working with cannabis companies.  The bill now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee.  Dozens of groups signed on to a letter sent to lawmakers on both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, urging them to allow DC sales.  Voters passed an initiative legalizing adult-use back in 2014, but sales have never been legal.

JUSTICE THOMAS

If you were going to guess which Supreme Court Justice would call out the federal government’s prohibition of marijuana use, would you go with Clarence Thomas?  Probably not.  But he came out this week with a pretty harsh assessment of the conflicted times in which we find ourselves.  As we reported last week, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging Section 280E of the Tax Code.  Justice Thomas issued a dissent to this denial in which he says, “This contradictory and unstable state of affairs strains basic principles of federalism and conceals traps for the unwary.”

united nations

In international news, the United Nations called for a ban on cannabis advertising in its annual World Drug Report.  This is simply a recommendation; the body cannot enforce any such ban.

and finally

This weekend, the Pocono Speedway will host a race sponsored by a CBD company.

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.

Connecticut legalized adult-use cannabis.  Rhode Island could soon follow.  The Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving Section 280E.  A federal marijuana research bill is making its way through Congress.  And if you’d like a little cannabis in your seltzer, there’s a drink made just for you.

Connecticut

As we reported last week, Connecticut has been wrestling with the idea of legalizing adult-use marijuana.  After a last minute amendment, Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed the bill.  The law goes into effect next week, and retail sales will likely begin in 2022.

rhode island

So what’s happening across the border in Rhode Island?  The Senate passed a legalization measure this week that now makes its way to the House.  They have until June 30 to pass the bill and send it to the governor, a legalization proponent.  That’s not a lot of time, so a special session is a possibility.

supreme court

Turning our attention to the federal government, the Supreme Court this week declined to hear a case involving Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code.  A lower court had ruled that the IRS can request information from state agencies in conducting tax audits of marijuana businesses.  A group of those businesses had hoped the Supreme Court would overturn that decision on the grounds that the IRS cannot determine if an entity violated federal drug laws.

cannabis research

One of the problems with cannabis research is that, by law, it must be conducted on government grown marijuana, which is a low-quality product.  Garbage in, garbage out.  A new measure would change that, allowing scientists to use cannabis from dispensaries instead.  The language appears in transportation legislation in both the Senate and the House.  Both bills have passed out of committee.

and finally

Hard seltzer commercials are ubiquitous these days – it’s what all the young people are drinking.  But what about seltzer with THC?  Cann Seltzer is hoping there’s a market for that.

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

Seyfarth Synopsis: On June 1, 2021, the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 519 which calls for the legalization for non-commercial use of specific psychedelics. This Bill is the newest among the growing list of legalization efforts of psychedelics, this being a major momentum shift.

In the most recent news of the ongoing modern psychedelic revolution, the California State Senate approved Senate Bill 519 on June 1, 2021. This bill, sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener, aims to legalize the possession and sharing of certain psychedelics. The list includes psilocybin, ketamine, MDMA, LSD, and non-peyote derived mescaline for Californians 21 and over. After its passing in the senate, the bill now moves to the Democratically controlled California State Assembly, and should it pass there it will be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for his final approval.

This bill is a legalization, not decriminalization effort, making it legal to not only possess and share the listed psychedelics, but also cultivate naturally occurring psychedelics for personal use specifically. This means home grown spores would be free to spread in backyards across California, as the bill specifically allows property owners to possess spores or mycelium producing mushrooms for personal or social use.

Notably, the bill allows Californians to have the psychedelics for “social use,” which is defined as “the giving away or consensual administering of,” the covered substances, by someone 21 or older to someone 21 or older. Social sharing includes but is not limited to group counseling, spiritual guidance, community-based healing, or related services.

However, the bill specifically disallows offering these substances for financial gain, which is defined as the receipt of money or other valuable consideration in exchange for the item being shared. This does not apply to reasonable fees for counseling, spiritual guidance, or related services that are provided in tandem with both the administering or use of any of the controlled substances specifically under the guidance and supervision of the person providing those services on the premises, and on the premises of the person providing the services. This section in particular may create an interesting carve out for administering the substances, for a reasonable fee, but only under supervision of a guide upon their designated premises.

Moreover, the bill calls for the California Department of Health to convene a working group that will research and make recommendations to the state legislature on the regulation and use of substances legalized by this bill.

This bill is the latest spore to pop up in the growing network of psychedelic legislation within the United States. The bill specifically cites other related initiatives in the City of Oakland and City of Santa Cruz as inspiration, as well as Ann Arbor, Michigan; Somerville, Massachusetts; and Cambridge, Massachusetts; which have all decriminalized possession, use, and propagation of psychedelic plants and fungi. Washington DC has also passed Initiative 81 which decriminalized and deprioritized the possession of certain psychedelics.

With SB 519’s passage, the proponents for psychedelic medical and personal use will land a major win, and the bill may act as a catalyst for more states to consider psychedelic legalization, potentially leading to a similar market like that of the budding cannabis industry.