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

Starting off in the international sphere, the European Parliament has passed a resolution recommending the descheduling of cannabis.  The hope is that this could lead to the establishment of bloc-wide medical marijuana laws.

In South Korea, medical marijuana will be legalized in March.

Among the states moving towards legalization of cannabis or medical cannabis are: Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Vermont (which currently has a “DC-style” system: you can grow it and you can use it, but you can’t buy it or sell it).

New Jersey’s move to legalize had been held up by tax considerations.  Now that those have been worked out, look for a bill to be introduced in the legislature in the near future.

The New Mexico Senate has approved a bill allowing the use of medical marijuana in schools.  The legislation now moves to the House.

Lawmakers from Maryland have formed a bipartisan group to study legalizing recreational cannabis in 2020.  The state currently allows the use of medical marijuana, which has generated $100 million in sales in its first year.

And speaking of sales, Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program brought in $132 million in its first year.

One of the difficulties facing cannabis businesses  is the lack of access to financial services.  Alaska’s Credit Union 1 seeks to change that next month.

The United Parcel Service is less than happy over the logo used by United Pot Smokers.  The first UPS is suing the second UPS in federal court for trademark infringement.  If High Times suggests it’s time to drop the “sassy parody brands,” it probably is…

Finally, from the “I Could Have Told You That” files, researches have discovered a correlation between recreational marijuana laws and junk food sales.

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

Possibly the biggest news this week was the first ever Congressional hearing on cannabis banking.  From the hearing’s webpage, you can watch the hearing, read the committee’s memorandum and read the witnesses’ prepared statements.   The committee memorandum has a great graphic of state marijuana laws – only three states allow no marijuana consumption in any form.

And speaking of state laws, several jurisdictions are moving forward with some form of legalization.  A full legalization bill was introduced in the Illinois legislature; a full legalization bill was passed out of a Senate committee in Hawaii; a House committee in New Mexico has passed another such bill, but more committees will need to weigh in before the full chamber votes.

In New Yorkthose in favor of legalization are pushing for changes to Gov. Cuomo’s bill introduced last month.   And the City of Baltimore has decriminalized marijuana possession, even though recreational cannabis is not legal in the state of Maryland.

Although no bill has yet been introduced, the Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania meanwhile has embarked on a listening tour to gather input on whether that state should legalize.

And the federal bill with the easy-to-remember number has now been introduced in the Senate.  S. 420 is a companion bill to H.R. 420 introduced last month.

One of the arguments used in favor of legalization is the amount of sales (and sales tax) generated by legal cannabis.  Colorado is looking at $6 billion in sales in 2018, and Oklahoma‘s medical marijuana program saw over $4 million in January 2019.

Since people are starting to throw their hats in the ring for the 2020 Presidential election, here’s the first in what will doubtless become a series: “Where the Candidates Stand on Marijuana.”  Kamala Harris (D-CA) has indicated that she is in favor of legalization.

And finally, the Massachusetts marijuana industry may be getting some publicity from an unlikely source: billboards in Connecticut.

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

Let’s start off this week’s post with some international news.  The World Health Organization is recommending that cannabis should be removed as a controlled substance under international treaties.  The recommendations will come up for a vote in March of this year.

Banking for the cannabis industry is a subject we watch closely.  In California, it’s been revealed that a credit union has surreptitiously (until now) been providing financial services to several marijuana businesses for the past year.

Turning our attention to the Midwest, which does seem to be the latest hotbed of cannabis activity, we find that Ohio medical marijuana sales have been very strong.  Illinois is now allowing those prescribed opioids to obtain temporary certification for medical cannabis.  Yet another indication that full legalization is in the cards?

Following up on our Tennessee coverage, the legislature is now considering validating out-of-state medical marijuana cards for use in the Volunteer State.  And Arkansas has now licensed 32 medical cannabis dispensaries, with sales possible by April.

New York looked as if it was on the verge of full legalization, but that may have changed.  Governor Cuomo’s budget does not include any additional money for law enforcement dealing with a new set of circumstances after legalization.  We’ll keep our eye on this situation, obviously.

And finally, if you had to pick a stock ticker symbol for a cannabis company, could you do any better than POT?

 

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

Welcome also to a new year of Week in Weed; after the many cannabis-related events of 2018, one can only imagine what will be occupying our attention in 2019…

This week, saw the release of a disappointing report on the possibility of cannabis banks in California.  Not feasible, as they would face insurmountable hurdles.  Read the full report for yourself here.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the procedure for licensing medical marijuana businesses has come under question.  In addition to the constitutional issues, the dispute between the Department of Health and a circuit court judge centers around how many licenses can be issued and whether vertical integration should be required.  Stay tuned for more on this issue, as the case has been appealed.

And in Massachusetts, a state Senator has plans to introduce legislation that would prevent employers from firing workers for off-duty cannabis use.  We’ll be keeping our eyes on this as well.

After Michigan legalized marijuana, we speculated that Illinois or Wisconsin might be next.  A state that seems unlikely to follow their neighbor’s lead is Indiana, where the governor is not a fan.

One big state that hasn’t made a move on cannabis is Texas.  Could that change in the new year?  Only time will tell.

In international news, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has decriminalized marijuana.  And what about Ireland?  They’ve made noises about legalizing medical marijuana before; could 2019 be the year?

We’ve got a lot to look forward to in 2019 – see you next Friday!

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

Here at The Blunt Truth, we are well aware of the difficulties cannabis businesses face in obtaining financial services.  It turns out, even political groups that support marijuana legalization can face a problem with banks.

A new cannabis political action committee, Californians for Sensible Regulation of Adult Use, is looking to raise $300,000 by 2020 to support industry-friendly candidates for public office in key jurisdictions of the state.

In the latest installment of “people changing their minds on marijuana,” the Mormon Church and cannabis advocates have reached a compromise on legalizing medical marijuana ahead of next month’s election, which features a ballot initiative to allow MMJ.

Those behind the campaign to legalize medical marijuana and some of its most vocal opponents have reached a tentative agreement on what medical marijuana policy should look like in Utah, the Deseret News has learned.

As we reported last weekthe Food and Drug Administration has allowed the sale of Epidiolex, which contains CBD derived from cannabis.  Apparently, that’s not the only move on marijuana the agency has made recently.

FDA officials have put out a call for public comment about the potential rescheduling of cannabis and several other substances.

Despite Michigan’s prohibition against cannabis-infused beverages, alcohol companies are actively pursuing the market.

A former Molson Coors exec will head its cannabis-drinks JV, called Truss. New Age Beverages is fielding requests for its CBD drinks.

And this just in: the Border Patrol has revised its lifetime ban against Canadians involved in cannabis.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) has announced that Canadians who work in the legal cannabis industry will generally be allowed to enter the United States.

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

Things in New Jersey have changed considerably with the end of Chris Christie’s term as governor, especially as concerns marijuana.

New Jersey’s top lawmaker has set a new date for at least one house of the state Legislature to vote legalizing recreational marijuana in the Garden State: Oct. 29.

Banking issues are a constant theme of this email, as the lack of financial services impedes the industry’s growth and states call on the federal government to step up.

Hawaii’s top banking regulator joined the growing chorus of state leaders urging Congress to consider banking solutions for the cannabis industry.

Meanwhile, in California, expungement is about to get much easier.

Hailed by advocates as a chance for people to “reclaim their lives,” a new California law will soon make it easier for people with past marijuana convictions to get their records expunged completely, or their sentences significantly reduced.

And finally, if you’re intrigued at the thought of a marijuana/beer mashup, you won’t be able to try it in Michigan.

Legislation that would prohibit the use, possession or sale of cannabis-infused beer, wine, liquor and mixed drinks in Michigan was approved by the state House on Tuesday by a 101-4 vote.

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

As long time readers of this blog know, banking for cannabis companies is problematic to say the least.  California has decided not to pursue allowing state banks to handle the industry’s money.

California lawmakers deferred a plan that would have allowed private banks to handle the money being generated by the legal cannabis industry.

In other Golden State news, revenues from marijuana sales have been disappointing.

Why is California’s tax revenue from legal marijuana not meeting expectations?

Meanwhile, in Louisiana,  medical marijuana planting has begun.

Louisiana’s first legal crop of medical marijuana can be planted this week. Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, whose agency regulates the burgeoning industry, loosened a regulatory logjam that created a months-long delay.

Finally, one of the more surprising additions to our list of politicians (or in this case, government entities) who have changed their mind on marijuana:

The anti-drug agency is moving to more than quintuple the amount of cannabis that can legally be grown in the U.S. for research purposes—from roughly 1,000 pounds in 2018 to more than 5,400 pounds next year.

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

Last week, we focused on Vermont’s legalization of recreational marijuana; this week we (re)turn our attention to Oklahoma.

Cultivators selected for Oklahoma’s emerging medical marijuana industry may face a challenge in starting up operations, particularly when it comes to obtaining seed.

Hot on the heels of Oklahoma’s successful medical cannabis vote, advocates in the state are collecting signatures to put adult-use legalization on the November ballot, Oklahoma’s News 4 reports.

In other state cannabis legalization news, you may recall the roller coaster ride of marijuana in Maine.  Here’s the latest twist in the story.

Governor LePage has lost this battle.

Banking for the cannabis industry is a major problem, as regular readers of this blog know.  Legislators on both the state and federal level are trying to change that.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) to provide guidance to support the safe and sound provision of banking services for medical marijuana and industrial hemp businesses.

For financial institutions interested in banking state-legal marijuana businesses, 2018 has been a rollercoaster.  See our take on the STATES act here.

And in case you feel the need to keep up with the new names for marijuana, the DEA has got your back.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has updated its list of slang terms for 2018, with some amusing results.

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.

 

No. We are not there yet. Are we making progress? Maybe.

The biggest impediment to explosive growth in the marijuana industry is lack of access to banking and robust financial services. Because banks face the risk of prosecution for money laundering and aiding and abetting in drug trafficking, most banks will not bank marijuana-related businesses (MRBs).

Why would any bank risk prosecution by banking MRBs? In 2014, following the issuance of the Cole Memorandum, the Justice Department and the Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued non-binding guidance on how financial institutions could serve MRBs. (For a more complete analysis of the laws related to banking MRBs see our blog post here.) The FinCEN guidelines called for fairly intensive, ongoing and expensive due diligence of any MRB customers, to the point where the risk/reward ratio for banks became inverted—high risk (jail, loss of banking license), low reward (low profit margins).

While most banks thought the risks far outweighed the benefits of having MRB customers, some financial institutions, mostly local banks and credit unions, saw in the FinCEN guidelines an opportunity and quietly began offering depositary services to MRBs. According to FinCEN, in 2017 there were over 300 financial institutions providing some form of banking services to MRBs. However, the vast majority of business in the industry is conducted in cash. For many businesses that touch the plant, this makes profit and loss statements questionable, taxing authorities nervous, and potential investors dubious about valuations.

Since the publication of the FinCEN statistics, much has happened to banking related to the marijuana industry—some of it good, some bad, and some ugly. Let’s take them in reverse order. Continue Reading Banking Marijuana Related Business: Are We There Yet?