In this week’s edition:

  • UN votes to remove cannabis from global Schedule IV
  • House passes bill to decriminalize cannabis
  • New Jersey and New York progress toward legalization
  • Massachusetts approves home delivery of cannabis
  • And more…

Federal

House passes bill to decriminalize cannabis – The US House of Representatives voted 228 to 164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act—the first time a congressional chamber has approved legislation to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. The implications of this legislation are broken down in an Axios article.

Congress should legalize cannabis now—for the economy and for social justice – Fortune published an op-ed by Canopy Growth Corp. US Vice President of Government Relations David Culver addressing the economic and social justice reasons for the federal legalization of cannabis.

States

AR – Four years after Arkansas voters approved an amendment to the state constitution legalizing medical cannabis in 2016, the industry now appears to be thriving, with more than 80 percent of licensed dispensaries and several cultivation facilities now operational.

CA – Citing concerns about secondhand smoke, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance banning all tobacco smoking inside apartments. Smoking cannabis indoors, however, will continue to be permitted.

CA – California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control has published a revised Branded Merchandise Fact Sheet with updated information on the sale and distribution of branded cannabis merchandise.

CA – The LA Department of Cannabis Regulation issued a list of the 200 finalists in the application process for social equity cannabis retail licenses.

IA – The federal Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a petition to exempt Iowa’s medical cannabis program from the Controlled Substances Act. Carl Olsen, the activist who filed the petition, plans to continue to press the DEA for the exemption. Meanwhile, the Iowa Department of Public Health is considering filing its own petition with the DEA.

MA – Massachusetts regulators approved new regulations allowing for the home delivery of cannabis, with an initial period of exclusivity for social equity and economic empowerment applicants. The new rules, which are expected to become effective next year, establish a two-pronged delivery license framework and provisions aimed at preventing monopolization of the new delivery sector. The new rules also include changes to the medical cannabis caregiver program.

MI – Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency published a technical bulletin on its approval of active ingredients that may be used in cannabis cultivation.

MO – Kansas City-based medical cannabis manufacturer CLOVR is the first Missouri business granted approval to operate by the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services. CLOVR was awarded two manufacturing licenses in the Kansas City area. The company said it expects to have wholesale products available to dispensaries across the state by late December.

NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) announced that he reached an agreement with state legislative leaders on legislation that would establish a framework for a new recreational cannabis marketplace.

NJ – The New Jersey Supreme Court challenged an employer’s contention that reimbursing an employee for medical cannabis use would violate federal drug law, highlighting its doubt that the federal government would ever prosecute such activity.

NY – Will Barclay (R), minority leader of the New York State Assembly, said he anticipates a deal for the legalization of cannabis in 2021.

VA – A working group of Virginia cabinet secretaries and other top officials submitted recommendations to Governor Ralph Northam (D) and state lawmakers on the implementation of a legal cannabis program in the Old Dominion. The report, which was required by a cannabis decriminalization bill enacted earlier this year, was authored by the Governor-appointed secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture and Forestry, Finance, Health and Human Resources, and Public Safety and Homeland Security.

HEMP/CBD

US – The FDA issued a warning letter to an online company offering for sale in the US unapproved and unauthorized COVID-19 test kit products and CBD products intended to mitigate, prevent, treat or cure COVID-19, requesting that the company take immediate action to cease the marketing and sale of such products. The warning letter notes that the FDA specifically limited distribution and use of the test kits to “authorized laboratories” and, regarding the CBD products, cites examples of claims on the company’s website that “misleadingly represent them as safe and/or effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.”

US – A group of cannabis industry veterans is launching a new hemp-product-focused special purpose acquisition company, Ackrell SPAC Partners I Co. The SPAC recently filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a $100 million initial public offering.

International

United Nations – The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the UN’s central drug policy-making body, voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, where it has long been listed alongside heroine and other drugs recognized as having little to no therapeutic purposes. While removal from Schedule IV opens the door to the exploration of medicinal and therapeutic use cases of cannabis, its use for non-medical and non-scientific purposes will continue to remain illegal.

Mexico – The Mexican Senate approved a bill enacting a Federal Law for the Regulation of Cannabis, and amending several provisions of Mexico’s General Health Law and the Federal Criminal Code. This approval paves the way for legalization of cannabis in Mexico, including establishing a framework for the regulation of the sowing, cultivation, harvesting, production, labeling, packaging, promotion, research, storage, advertising, importation, exportation, sponsoring, transportation, distribution, sale and marketing of cannabis for personal use, scientific, commercial and industrial non-medical purposes. For more information, please refer to the attached summary by Dentons’ partner Joaquín Contreras.

European Commission – The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, sent a statement to the European Industrial Hemp Association and at least one other Novel Food authorization applicant indicating that hemp-derived cannabidiol should not be regulated as a narcotic and therefore may qualify as a food.  Earlier this year, the EC halted review of applications for pre-market authorization of CBD products as it assessed whether CBD should be regulated as a narcotic.

Business

National Basketball Players Association – The NBA and its player’s union have jointly agreed to the suspension of random marijuana testing for the upcoming 2020-21 season.  NBA spokesperson Mike Bass has indicated that the organization will instead “focus [its] random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse.”

Medical/Health

Canadian Firm to Advance Research in Anti-Anxiety Treatment Targeting The Endocannabinoid System– California-based Artelo Biosciences, Inc. recently announced that its Canadian subsidiary, Artelo Biosciences Corporation, received a Mitacs Accelerate grant that will allow the company to continue its research on ART26.12, a fatty acid binding protein 5 (FABP5) inhibitor program for the treatment of anxiety, cancer, inflammation and pain.  FABPs have been identified as intracellular transporters for the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA), a neurotransmitter produced in the brain.

Study finds that CBD Doesn’t Impair Driving Ability – A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that small doses of CBD appear to have no significant impact on driving performance. Comparable amounts of THC, however, were associated with temporary driving impairment “modest in magnitude and similar to that seen in drivers with a 0.05%” blood alcohol level, the study found.