The FDA seems to be cracking down on hemp-derived CBD products. Vermont’s highest court says police searches can’t be justified by the smell of marijuana. Business is booming for Canada’s black-market cannabis sellers. Also: A new book in the era of legal weed warns of marijuana’s link to schizophrenia and violence. 🌳
FDA confiscates CBD products. The Farm Bill may have legalized industrial hemp, but the FDA is still maintaining its authority over hemp-derived CBD. The owner of a Yuma, Ariz. store that sells CBD products says officials came into his shop and confiscated dozens of hemp-derived CBD products. Meanwhile, a pet CBD brand in the state received a letter from criminal investigators about a shipment that was being held “as there are reasonable grounds to believe its contents are nonmailable.” Phoenix New Times Related: Oregon regulators are considering new rules that would require hemp growers to get a special license to sell hemp-derived CBD products in dispensaries. The Bulletin
Vermont’s highest court rules in marijuana smell case. The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that a faint marijuana smell cannot be used by police to justify searches and seizures. The case involved Gregory Zullo, a black driver who was pulled over in 2014 due to “snow that allegedly covered the vehicle’s registration sticker on the license plate.” The officer ordered that his car be seized due to the “alleged faint odor” of marijuana. Zullo was never charged with a crime and police didn’t find any marijuana in his car, though they did find a pipe with “residue” in it. His attorneys pointed to a 2013 law that decriminalized marijuana possession in the state. (Since the case was initially filed, Vermont has legalized personal marijuana possession). VT Digger
Delaware medical marijuana patient can proceed with lawsuit. A Delaware court ruled in favor of a medical marijuana patient who is suing his former employer over his termination. Jeremiah Chance was fired from his job at Kraft Heinz after testing positive for marijuana. He uses medical marijuana to treat various back problems. Chance is arguing that state law forbids companies from firing their workers for using medical marijuana (unless they were impaired on the job). Kraft Heinz is arguing that federal law preempts state protections for medical marijuana patients. National Law Review
America’s ‘first pot governor.’ As Jared Polis takes the helm as governor of Colorado, he’s being hailed for his longstanding support of marijuana reform. Polis has expressed a desire to sign all of the marijuana bills that were vetoed by outgoing governor John Hickenlooper. These measures include ones to allow access to medical marijuana for autism patients, and to allow on-site marijuana consumption at dispensaries. “Cannabis advocates hope to move quickly, too. Marijuana is expected to be one of the top issues in the legislative session that started Friday.” Meanwhile, the state’s marijuana regulations are due for a “sunset review” five years after recreational sales first began in the state. Colorado Sun
The year of accountability for marijuana. A look at the year ahead for Massachusetts’ marijuana program highlights issues playing out in other states too. As the state-level legalization trend continues, there’s more discussion of racial equity in the industry. “Despite the crystal-clear equity mandate in state law, top elected officials won’t see this as a particularly pressing problem — or at least, not their problem. At best, they’ll tell us, patronizingly, that it’s a complicated issue with no easy solutions (true) and throw up their hands (disappointing).” As the discussion moves from whether to legalize to how to legalize, government officials and the industry will have the public to answer too. The Boston Globe
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Should Oregon export marijuana? The state’s legal marijuana program has a problem: too much weed. As lawmakers return to the legislature, they’ll be considering some bills that propose allowing marijuana exports that could help it with its oversupply problem. The case against the proposal: allowing exports will only encourage more growing. Statesman Journal The case for the proposal: It could end black-market diversion and save entrepreneurs and small businesses from getting gobbled up by Big Marijuana. Statesman Journal
A prohibitionist take in the era of legalization. A former New York Times reporter warns of the dangers of weed in the paper’s op-ed pages. The New York Times A look at his forthcoming book concludes that his investigation yields “disturbing” findings about cannabis. While “there is no definitive answer,” the book presents “bits and pieces of evidence” that links marijuana use with schizophrenia and violent behavior. The New Yorker
Today in cannabis business news… The Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture is criticizing Facebook for taking down hemp companies’ pages for their promotions. In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the commissioner urged him to stop the “recent practice of limiting its users’ ability to advertise and communicate about hemp-based products and businesses.” WKYT The founder of a cannabis tech startup demurred when a reporter compared his company to Amazon. “[Amazon has] stolen value from local communities and local businesses… At iheartjane we don’t want to do that. We see ourselves as partners in that… It’s to really establish ourselves as tech partners for offline retailers.” GeekWire
Cannabis in Canada. Business is booming for the country’s black-market cannabis sellers as the legal market struggles with stocking its shelves and is also unwelcoming to longtime marijuana sellers. The Washington Post The previous government of Ontario planned to open 80 cannabis stores by July. Now, “only seven retail licenses will be available for a large swath of Western Ontario.” CBC News Vancouver’s first licensed cannabis retailer opened up shop over the weekend. Vancouver Sun
Elsewhere around the world… A parliamentary group for medical cannabis in the U.K. criticized the NHS for its “serious cultural block” against medical marijuana. The Guardian A cancer patient in Israel is suing the Health Ministry after it slashed his cannabis prescription against the advice of four of his doctors. Since the government decreased his dosage, his tumor has started growing again. Times of Israel The medical cannabis market in Germany saw an increase in demand, but growth slowed in the third quarter of last year. Marijuana Business Daily A look at a Canadian company’s cannabis farm in Jamaica reveals that “in the nascent world of global pot investing, assets can be hard to document and even harder to value, though first-mover advantage may hold big rewards.” Bloomberg Bermuda is lifting its ban on marijuana investment funds. Marijuana Business Daily
Word on the States
- In California, a state report found that creating a public bank for cannabis companies isn’t feasible. Compton tests a bail-reduction pilot program. Job seekers turned out for a cannabis job fair in San Diego.
- In New Jersey, a look at how towns are banning marijuana before it’s even legalized. The governor is scheduled to meet with lawmakers on marijuana legalization and other legislative priorities. A college forms a Cannabis Institute to advise government officials on marijuana policy.
- In Colorado, a look at possible changes to marijuana regulations in 2019. Boulder’s D.A. is holding marijuana expungement events this month.
- In Alaska, the state saw a drop in marijuana tax revenue for the first time.
- In New York, how state lawmakers want to legalize marijuana.
- In Michigan, the state issued a voluntary recall for non-lab tested medical marijuana products.
- In Connecticut, the House Speaker pledged to push for recreational legalization in 2019.
- In New Mexico, a deep dive into the marijuana legalization debate.
- In Arkansas, the governor warned residents against buying medical marijuana in neighboring Oklahoma.
- In Ohio, residents ask state officials to add more qualifying conditions to the medical marijuana program.
- In Florida, a judge found the medical marijuana law unconstitutional. The new agriculture commissioner pledges swift medical marijuana edibles regulations.
- In Louisiana, the state’s sole medical marijuana grower has set a new date for product availability.
- In Kentucky, one state senator is preparing to file marijuana decriminalization and expungement bills.
- In Iowa, a look at possible reforms for the medical marijuana program.
- In Maryland, a lawmaker proposes using medical marijuana to help combat opioid addiction.
- In Virginia, a powerful state senator hopes to decriminalize marijuana. Cannabis has helped drive up lobbying interests.
- In West Virginia, government officials are wrestling with how to address medical marijuana banking issues. There’s bipartisan support for reforming the MMJ program.
- In Alabama, how federal inmates helped make an Alabama sheriff $1.5 million.
- In Washington D.C., a fire broke out at a medical marijuana facility over the weekend.
Word for Word
“The competition for employees has become excruciating for people like Michael Haith, the chief executive of Teriyaki Madness, a fast-casual Japanese food chain. The restaurant needs to staff 50 new locations next year, which means hiring up to 1,000 workers. That’s not an easy feat in “a brutal market” for employers, Mr. Haith said. He vies for workers with big brands like Burger King. Rival businesses have sent recruiters into Teriyaki Madness stores to poach his employees with offers of higher salaries. In Colorado, where the chain is based, he’s also fending off marijuana farmers, who pay trimmers up to $17 an hour.” – Natalie Kitroeff for The New York Times