A look at the flurry of cannabis activity in Congress. SCOTUS declined to hear a marijuana tax case. Maine is finally going to get a regulated marijuana market. Also: Prosecutors in Idaho delayed the sentencing of two hemp transporters who were charged with marijuana trafficking. 🌳
Cannabis bills in Congress.
Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced a bill that would protect immigrants from being deported or denied citizenship for marijuana offenses. Even working in a state-legal marijuana company can lead to citizenship denials thanks to federal prohibition. “This Administration’s efforts to use marijuana possession as a tool for deportation is disgraceful and misguided,” Booker said in a statement. Forbes A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill to promote marijuana research by streamlining the application process and encourage the development of cannabinoid drugs. Marijuana Moment Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and U.S. rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced a bill to allow interstate marijuana commerce between states that have legalized the drug. Marijuana Moment Related: Here’s how that bill would affect the marijuana markets of different states. The Wall Street Journal
SCOTUS declines to hear marijuana tax case.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the 280E IRS tax code. Cannabis businesses in the U.S. are barred from taking typical business deductions because marijuana is a Schedule I substance. The plaintiff argued that “the IRS could not use section 280E to deny the deductions in the absence of a conviction from a criminal court.” But the Supreme Court sided with the lower courts, which concluded that the IRS can use 280E absent a criminal conviction. Lexology
Equity in L.A. falls short.
The Minority Cannabis Business Association released a report on Los Angeles’ cannabis social equity program, finding that the program falls short of its goals. The report praised the program for its expansive eligibility criteria and also for reserving half of all licenses for equity applicants. But the organization found that the program does not promote the long-term success of such applicants, nor does it include a community reinvestment fund. The report recommended that new license types like consumption lounges should be reserved for social equity applicants when they first become available. Cannabis Wire
Maine gets recreational marijuana rules.
Maine governor Janet Mills signed a bill on Thursday that will set up a regulated, recreational marijuana market 2.5 years after voters approved legalization at the ballot box. The delay is in part thanks to former Maine governor Paul LePage, who opposed legalization. Mills, on the other hand, “has acted swiftly to launch adult-use sales, creating an Office of Marijuana Policy in her first month that produced draft regulations in just under three months.” The regulations have the most demanding residency requirements of any marijuana market in the nation — only those who have lived in the state for at least four years can seek a license or own a majority stake in a marijuana business. “Maine has embraced residency requirements for economic reasons, wanting to create a state market that benefits residents and keeps marijuana profits from heading out of state.” Portland Press-Herald
Hemp vs. marijuana.
Two men who were transporting hemp through Idaho were arrested and charged with felony drug trafficking after police claimed they were hauling marijuana. Ada County prosecutors delayed their sentencing this week, saying “they want to find an ‘appropriate’ resolution for the case.” “I hope that they do use discretion to where these men aren’t going to be used as the poster boys for not driving industrial hemp across the state when it’s pretty much legal everywhere,” said Idaho state rep. Dorothy Moon. Boise State Public Radio Legal hemp in Texas is complicating marijuana prosecutions, as crime labs in Texas aren’t able to determine THC potency. One county D.A.’s office dismissed about 235 misdemeanor marijuana possession cases due to not being able to prove the THC concentration of cannabis products. “It could take up to a year before county crime labs are equipped and ready to do the tests.” Kera News
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The Arizona Auditor General’s office released a report, finding that the state health department misallocated nearly $1 million in funds meant for operating the state’s medical marijuana program. “The department disagreed with the assertion that funds were misspent.” The audit also found that two employees were paid $131,000 from the marijuana fund, even though they worked for other programs. Arizona Capitol Times The director of the agency said the department will change its record-keeping practices to better document the allocation of funds. “It’s not so much that we’re changing it because we agree that we misallocated [money]. We did find areas that we can improve in,” she said. Arizona Capitol Times
Marijuana in the Florida courts.
A medical marijuana patient in Florida is appealing his case to the state Supreme Court. Joe Redner is asking the court to overrule a lower court’s decision barring him from growing his own medical cannabis plants. The court isn’t required to take the case. Florida Politics An orchid grower has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state health department “alleging constitutional due-process violations related to the nursery’s attempt to get a medical marijuana license.” The plaintiff “has waged a years-long legal battle in pursuit of a license, with a pile of cases pending in Tallahassee circuit court and a state appellate court.” Orlando Weekly
Today in cannabis business news…
A co-working space in Denver now allows its tenants to smoke weed on a private balcony. The owner of the space says he has been telling tenants that they can do so if they asked. Now, he’s letting everyone know about the balcony. Westword Clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch will sell CBD products in more than 160 stores. CNBC Social media platforms shutting down cannabis business accounts are costing headaches for the industry. Facebook and Instagram have long inconsistently enforced their policies about marijuana content, and some “industry officials say this is a result of spiteful competitors flagging posts and reporting pages to the platforms’ moderators, costing businesses thousands of dollars in lost time and labor.” Marijuana Business Daily
Cannabis in Canada.
The leader of the Conservative party Andrew Scheer said that his party would maintain legal cannabis and stay the course on pot pardons. Only one Conservative MP voted for legalization in 2017. CTV News Cannabis consumers could be hit with higher insurance premiums. And with regulated edibles on the horizon, “most companies treat the edibles as similar to smoking,” explained an expert. Consumers should shop around as some insurance companies offer unlimited edibles consumption, while others treat those who use marijuana as smokers — no matter the ingestion method. CTV News
Elsewhere around the world…
Officials from Luxembourg have been traveling to other countries in preparation to legalize adult-use cannabis in the country. It could become the first country in Europe to do so. Cannabis Wire The mother of an epileptic child fears facing child protection proceedings as a result of smuggling in medical cannabis oil into the U.K. While her son now has a legal prescription from a private hospital, police investigated the mother after she said she smuggled the oil into the country in a documentary. BBC A look at how businesses in Jamaica are pushing the industry forward amid strict regulations. Miami Herald A hospital in Thailand opened a medical marijuana clinic. It immediately reached its limit and has stopped accepting new patients. The Nation
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Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, marijuana regulators denied a license over safety and transportation concerns.
- In California, the state legislature approved a bill to extend provisional cannabis permits until 2020.
- In New Jersey, black and Latino leaders are renewing the push for marijuana decriminalization.
- In Missouri, more than 500 businesses want to grow or sell medical marijuana in the state.
- In New York, a progressive’s case against legalization.
- In Michigan, a look at Lansing’s growing medical marijuana market.
- In Maine, the Sanford City Council will consider allowing caregiver offices next to growing facilities.
- In Florida, researchers seek new hemp varieties to bolster the state hemp program.
Word for Word
“My kids know a lot about cannabis. They know it’s a plant. They know that there are different strains that make you feel differently. They know that growers like us are heavily taxed by the state and make rules that often make their mama cry. They know it’s federally illegal. They know that different government agencies have lied to the people about the benefits of cannabis. Cannabis is bound to come up as topic in elementary schools; it’s just under a very different pretext than when you or I was a kid… I think the big thing is that it’s about age-appropriate answers and we, the adults, feel much more uncomfortable than the kids do.” – President of The Cannabis Alliance Danielle Rosellison for The Spokesman-Review
“A psychedelically-imposed connection with nature could do more than make for an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque story later. In the face of an impending climate crisis, there’s a need to know why some people are motivated to act environmentally and others not… Researchers find that bombarding people with facts about climate isn’t the best tactic. Dissecting the psychedelic experience could help policy makers, scientists, and journalists attempt to recreate the core feeling of relatedness that the drugs bring about: the sense that nature is a part of us, our bodies, our lives, and that we are a part of it. Capturing that might lead people to act to protect the planet, since the planet is an extension of themselves.” – Shayla Love for Vice