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.

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!

What a year it’s been in legalizing cannabis—from conservative states legalizing medical marijuana—to city ordinances imposing cannabis requirements. Changes in Cannabis laws are definitely creating a buzz for SF and Utah employers.

Background Checks SF. San Francisco, known for its forward progress in the cannabis space, has done it again. Effective October 1, 2018, employers are prohibited from “inquiring about, requiring disclosure of, or basing employment decisions on convictions for decriminalized behavior, including the non-commercial use and cultivation of cannabis.” The ordinance restricts employers from asking questions about pot convictions and, instead, authorizes the City to impose penalties on employers who violate the ordinance. Some of the penalties include a private right of action for the victim and monetary payment.

Notably, in conformance with California’s Fair Chance Employment Act, the ordinance does allow employers to ask about convictions after a conditional offer of employment has been made. Under the Act, employers can deny an applicant a position of employment because of the conviction, but the employer must make an individualized assessment of whether the applicant’s conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job which justify denying the applicant the position. In making the assessment, the employer must consider the nature and gravity of the offense or conduct; the time since the offense; and the nature of the job held or sought.  For more information on what else an employer is required to do when contemplating denying employment to an applicant, contact your favorite Seyfarth cannabis attorney.

Could Utah’s cannabis legalization be up in smoke? As previously reported, Utah legalized medical marijuana this midterm through Proposition 2. Proposition 2 failed to include important provisions in its initiative, including what rights employers would have.

However, Utah’s House of Representatives held a special legislative session whereby lawmakers changed Proposition 2 and adopted more restrictive provisions in what is being called the medical cannabis compromise. These restrictive provisions include employer protections. For example, a draft of the medical cannabis compromise states that an employee may not “be under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol during work hours” nor can the employee “refuse to submit to a drug or alcohol test.” (Section 67-19-33).

The compromise also states that employees cannot manufacture, dispense, possess, use, or distribute a controlled substance if: (1) the activity prevents state agencies from receiving federal grants or performing under federal contracts of $25,000 or more; or (2) the activity prevents the employee from performing his “services or work for state government effectively as regulated by the rules of the executive director.”

Although Utah lawmakers tried to clear the haze left by Proposition 2, a pair of advocacy groups have since filed a lawsuit to block the medical cannabis compromise. The groups argue that the compromise is unconstitutional and interferes with what the voters enacted. The group asked the Utah Supreme Court to allow a referendum on the legislature’s action and allow them to go before voters to challenge the medical cannabis compromise. Alternatively, they seek to overturn the compromise and instead, keep Proposition 2 as the law.

While this lawsuit may be a long shot because the legislature has the legal authority to modify or replace ballot initiatives, you’ll want to stay tuned for further updates as this story develops.

And if you’d like to get a preview of what 2019 may have in store for California and cannabis, check out “Pot-Protective Employment Laws Loom in 2019” in the Los Angeles Lawyer magazine.

 

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!

With just under four weeks until Election Day, the push to legalize medical marijuana in Utah continues to progress. After years of failed efforts in the state legislature, the issue is being presented directly to voters by way of Utah Proposition 2, the Medical Marijuana Initiative. If the referendum passes, it will legalize medical cannabis for individuals with qualifying conditions. Eligible conditions include autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and chronic pain where the patient is unable to use opiates, among several other ailments. Continue Reading Give and Toke: Utah Reaches Compromise Agreement on Proposed Medical Marijuana Policy

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.

Big legalization news from the Northern Mariana Islands – they’ve legalized marijuana and they’ve done it via legislation.

On Friday, Gov. Ralph Torres of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory, signed a cannabis legalization bill into law.

Meanwhile, back on the U.S. mainland, voters in Utah will be voting on whether to allow medical marijuana in the state.

Utah’s Prop 2 is fast becoming a struggle between supporters of medical marijuana and the Mormon church.

No matter who wins Utah’s U.S. Senate race in November, the Beehive State will have an advocate in Washington, D.C., for moving marijuana off the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances, a designation that cannabis now shares with heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

And finally, here’s yet another reason to make Las Vegas your vacation destination.

LAS VEGAS — A glass bong taller than a giraffe. Huggable faux marijuana buds. A pool full of foam weed nuggets. Las Vegas’ newest attraction — and Instagram backdrop — is a museum celebrating all things cannabis.

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

Most employers are wary of union organizing, but a marijuana retailer in Washington is supportive of the idea.

A cannabis retailer led efforts to have his employees join a union in an unusual labor organizing drive in Washington.

Once recreational marijuana in legal in a state,  what does the state do about criminal records?

A measure passed by the legislature would require a review of all marijuana-related crimes in the state between 1975 and 2016, when pot was legalized in California.

Not everyone is in favor of expanding access to medical marijuana; the Mormon Church is opposed to allowing MMJ in Utah.

The Mormon church ramped up its opposition this week to a proposal that would allow medical marijuana in Utah, even as faith leaders insisted they support patients using it under strict controls.

Finally, just because you’re seizing someone’s illegal cannabis plants doesn’t mean you can’t also have a sense of humor about it.

Police in Marlborough, New Hampshire confiscated 25 cannabis plants growing on private land and then did something unexpected —they joked about it, reports The Boston Globe.