Welcome to our end of the year wrap-up post for The Week in Weed; it’s hard to believe another year has come and (almost) gone, but the calendar doesn’t lie.  In what we are calling an homage to Dave Barry and his always hilarious Year in Review, we’ll organize these stories by month.

Without further ado, here’s a look at the stories that grabbed our attention in 2018. Continue Reading The Week, No Make that the Year, in Weed: 2018

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

In what may become another continuing feature, another “red” state appears poised to being the marijuana legalization process.  Member of the Nebraska legislature are looking to put medical cannabis on the 2020 ballot.

Meanwhile, if there were an award for best name of a marijuana store, the Gas N’ Grass in Portland, ME would win, hands down.

The fact that Michigan has legalized cannabis, but not the sale of cannabis is not problem for one entrepreneur, who has embraced a “gifting” model.

Although New Jersey is on our “states to watch” list, adult use legalization is not going to happen this year.  We’ll see what 2019 brings.

We reported last week that Minnesota was considering marijuana legalization.  For more info and some great analysis, see this blog post from the Minneapolis Criminal Law News.

Andrew Cuomo has appeared before in our “politicians coming around on marijuana” segment.  He’s now fully in support of full legalization.

In international news, New Zealand will have a binding referendum on cannabis legalization in 2020.  We promise to follow this news and report back in a future Week in Weed.

Sometimes it seems as if everyone is in favor of legal cannabis.  This is not true.  Take New Hampshire’s governor.

See you next Friday!

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 is that hemp legalization is on its way to the President’s desk.  Noted hemp supporter Sen. Mitch McConnell even signed the bill with a hemp pen.

In other federal news, the Surgeon General has come out in favor of rescheduling cannabis.  He believes the current placement of marijuana in Schedule I has prevented research into the drug.

In California, the Bureau of Cannabis Control has finalized its regulations.  They will now make their way to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for review.  Marijuana Business Daily has a nice summary of the provisions and what they will mean for businesses in the state.

But the action on the state level is not just on the West Coast.  The inter-state rivalry between Michigan (which just legalized adult-use cannabis) and Illinois continues, as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks out in favor of legalizing marijuana.  In other Midwestern news, Minnesota might also consider legalization, but, don’t hold your breath, votes may not be taken until 2020.

And for the latest on the Utah situation, see Jinouth Vasquez’s post which describes the state of play there, at least as of yesterday afternoon!

See you next Friday!

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, at least on the federal level, is that hemp legalization appears to be coming sooner rather than later.  Nothing like having an important Senator on your side to smooth the way.

In state news, marijuana stores in Massachusetts opened last week (after WIW went to press) with many customers eager to purchase their wares.  Remember, Massachusetts voters opted to legalize cannabis in 2016.  Voters in Michigan may want to keep that timeframe for stores to open in mind, as legalization takes effect there December 6.  Possession and home cultivation will be legal next week, but it will probably be a while before shops open.

Remember when it seemed as if New Jersey was the last place you thought would legalize cannabis?  Times have changed!  Granted, this newest proposal may not go anywhere, but these bills are no longer dead on arrival.

And add North Carolina to the list of states considering legalization.  Theirs is an interesting idea, that I’ve not seen before, where each county would be able to decide to legalize or not.  Like wet and dry counties, but with cannabis rather than alcohol.

And in our continuing series on politicians who have changed their mind on marijuana, Joe Kennedy III has now joined this club.

In international news,  South Korea has legalized medical marijuana, the first country in East Asia to do so.

And finally, for our Chicagoland readers, please join us at our Chicago Willis Tower office on Thursday, December 6th, for breakfast along with a Seyfarth Legal Forum and Continuing Legal Education (CLE): 2018 Highlights and a Look Ahead to 2019.  Among the topics under discussion is cannabis in Illinois.

While there is no cost to attend, registration is required and space is limited.  If you have any questions, please contact Fiona Carlon at fcarlon@seyfarth.com and reference this event.

See you next week!

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

After last week’s dizzying amount of news, it’s nice to settle down a bit and have more of a “regular” news flow.  Not that things haven’t been happening; the elections have led to new initiatives surrounding marijuana.

For instance, there’s some speculation that the new governor of Illinois will seek to follow Michigan’s example and legalize cannabis.

And speaking of Michigan, politicians there are talking about expungement of criminal records related to marijuana use.

In Texas meanwhile,  there’s discussion of legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis.

But the news isn’t all with the states; things are happening on the federal level as well.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising that industrial hemp will appear in the farm bill.  And veterans interested in medical marijuana will be happy to know that proposed legislation to loosen restrictions at the Veterans Administration has been announced.

And for those of you thinking about changing careers, the National Institute on Drug Abuse is looking for some professional joint rollers.

See you next week!

Michigan becomes the tenth state to legalize cannabis on a recreational level, and Missouri and Utah now join thirty-one other states who have legalized medical marijuana. But what’s next and how will this affect employers?

Here is a quick summary of some of the major issues employers may face now that cannabis is legal in Michigan, Missouri, and Utah.

Michigan. Employers can rejoice in that the recreational bill leaves their right to refuse to hire or to discharge an employee intact. The act “does not prohibit an employer from disciplining an employee for violation of a workplace drug policy or for working while under the influence of marijuana. This act does not prevent an employer from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against a person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of that person’s violation of a workplace drug policy or because that person was working while under the influence of marijuana.”

Compared to some of the other recreational bills that have been passed, this one gives employers some leeway in allowing them to refuse to hire, refuse to accommodate, or discharge an employee simply for violating their drug policies. In order to obtain the protections afforded by this bill, employers that operate in Michigan must confirm that they have adequate anti-drug policies prohibiting the use of marijuana in the workplace.

Missouri. Amendment Two passed by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent. What this means is that qualified patients who have approval from their physicians will receive identification cards from the State that will allow them to consume marijuana.

The bill affords some level of protection to employers. The bill states that a person cannot bring a claim “against any employer, former employer, or prospective employer for wrongful discharge, discrimination or any similar cause of action or remedy” based on the employer “prohibiting the employee, former employee, or prospective employee from being under the influence of marijuana at work … or for attempting to work while under the influence of marijuana.”

While this bill in theory provides employers some protections, the difficulty employers face is testing for intoxication and determining if the employee is under the influence at work. THC accumulates and slowly releases overtime, such that chronic users may test positive even after many days of abstinence. Further, the way the body metabolizes THC makes it possible that the effects of marijuana continue long after the drug ceases to be detectible via blood tests. Thus, employers need to make sure they train their supervisors on how to properly detect cannabis use. Examples include looking for visible signs of cannabis use, such as, slowed productivity, weed odor, and blood shot eyes.

Utah. Interestingly, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act is silent as to what protections employers are afforded. While current law allows employers to drug screen applicants and allows existing employees to engage in drug testing for investigative purposes, the bill seems to imply that it may allow medical card users more protections in the employment context. Under the “Nondiscrimination” section, the bill states that cannabis use does “not constitute an illegal substance.” That section also prevents landlords from refusing to lease or from penalizing a person simply for being a marijuana card holder. Oklahoma had a similar landlord provision, and there, employers could not discriminate against a person in “hiring or termination or from imposing any term or condition of employment or other penalize a person based upon their status as a medical marijuana card holder or the results of a positive drug test.” Thus, it’s likely that Utah may adopt a similar provision. However, until Utah clears the smoke, employers remain in a haze as to what protections they have. Stay tuned for growing developments.

 

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.  And what a week it was!

Michigan legalized recreational cannabis, Utah and Missouri voted yes on medical marijuana, and several pro-legalization candidates were elected as governors.  Meanwhile, North Dakota voted against legalization and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (sponsor of the legislation to prevent the DOJ from enforcing federal law against medical marijuana dispensaries) lost his seat.

And Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who made no secret of his opposition to cannabis for any purpose, was forced out of the administration.  So yeah, a lot’s been going on.

For our round-up of marijuana-related election results, see yesterday’s post.  For more analysis, see articles from the National Cannabis Industry Association, Ganjapreneur, and Marijuana Business Daily.

For Sessions news, see here, here and here.

But, has anything else important happened lately?  I’m glad you asked, because the answer is yes.

It’s not just Canada that’s legalized marijuana.  The Mexican Supreme Court has just ruled that the nation’s ban on cannabis is unconstitutional.

Speaking of Canada, they’ve got a pot shortage.  Apparently, you need to stock up more than you think when you legalize.  Mexico: take note.

Back in the U.S., the first cannabis-based drug approved by the FDA is now available by prescription.

See you again next Friday!

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.

Could legal recreational marijuana be in Michigan’s future?  A referendum may be on the November ballot.

Associated Press and Gongwer News Service – Michigan’s elections board said organizers collected enough signatures, but the measure will first go to the Republican-led Legislature, which could enact it or let it proceed to a statewide vote.

In other state news, Missouri is moving towards legal medical marijuana.  The state House has voted in favor of a bill to give access to terminal patients.

Missouri’s House has passed a medical cannabis measure that would allow individuals with terminal illness and 11 other conditions to access the program, the Columbia Missourian reports.

When marijuana becomes legal in a jurisdiction, what happens to all those old arrests?  Seattle is going to expunge them.

Seattle’s mayor says it will help “right the wrongs of the failed War on Drugs.”

And in what is becoming a continuing series, another politician is speaking out in favor of legal marijuana.  This time, it’s Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

The California senator, a longtime opponent of legalization, says she’s come around.

Finally, have you wondered when the craft beer industry would jump on the marijuana bandwagon?  The answer is this fall.

Keith Villa, the man who created the recipe for the popular Blue Moon beer, has a new project: a marijuana-infused beer made by his new brewing company.