Dentons – Cannabis Client Alert – May 2022

In this week’s edition:

Federal

Large Majority of Americans Favor Legal Recreational Cannabis Under Federal Law – Nearly two-thirds of Americans want recreational cannabis use to be legal under federal law and in their own state. In light of these attitudes, it’s no surprise that the US House of Representatives recently passed a bill to federally decriminalize cannabis.

Most Senators Still Oppose Doing a Hugely Popular Thing: Legalizing Cannabis – Even though a majority of Americans say cannabis should be legal for adults and the House of Representatives has passed a bill to legalize it, it is unlikely the Senate will jump on the bandwagon. Multiple Republican and Democratic senators continue to oppose cannabis legalization.

Momentum Builds in Senate for Passing SAFE Act – Bipartisan support in the Senate grows for passage of the SAFE Banking Act, which would facilitate banking access for cannabis companies. Access to banking is a well-known issue for the cannabis industry and the repeated efforts to obtain the bill’s congressional passage over the past few years remains a hot topic for industry insiders and participants. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is currently leading a push to include it in a sweeping package intended to help resolve the country’s ongoing supply chain issues.

Bankers Associations From All 50 States Push Senate to Pass Cannabis Banking Reform – In a letter to Senate leaders last week, the American Bankers Association (ABA) and state counterparts stated that the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is an “urgently needed, and widely supported, bipartisan legislative solution” to the ongoing banking issues that cannabis industry participants must deal with every day, including the “significant public safety concerns” that result from an industry operating almost entirely in cash.

Garland Tells Lawmakers DOJ’s Approach to Cannabis Unchanged – Attorney General Merrick Garland told Congress last week that the US Department of Justice still considers enforcement of federal cannabis policy to be a low priority, maintaining in place the hands-off approach prosecutors have taken toward the industry for more than seven years. Garland made the comments at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

States

DE – The Delaware House of Representatives approved a bill to legalize cannabis possession, which now advances to the Senate. Following the example of Vermont, the noncommercial bill would only amend state law by legalizing the possession and gifting of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults 21 and older. As was done in Vermont, lawmakers hope to pass follow-up legislation setting up a commercial cannabis market.

KY – Governor Andy Beshear cleared the way for a cannabis research center to open at the University of Kentucky. Meanwhile, the Governor is also reviewing whether he has executive authority to legalize medical cannabis in response to the state Senate’s inaction on the matter.

ME – Maine enacted multiple cannabis bills last week without Governor Janet Mills’ signature. Among other things, the legislation authorized home delivery by licensed cannabis retailers and repealed prohibitions on the hiring of applicants with past criminal convictions for certain cannabis offenses.

MI – Michigan cannabis regulators axed a plan to allow hemp to be synthetically converted to THC. Based upon the significant public concern for safety and lack of scientific and public health data related to the conversion process, the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency withdrew the proposed rulemaking.

MS – A total of 10 counties and 17 municipalities have opted out of participating in Mississippi’s new medical cannabis program. The program was officially adopted during the 2022 legislative session. Cannabis businesses will not be permitted to operate in those localities that have opted out of the program.

MO – A Missouri House committee approved a GOP-led joint resolution seeking to place recreational cannabis legalization before the voters on the November ballot. The development comes alongside a separate push to enact legalization legislatively.

NH – The New Hampshire Senate just rejected two adult-use cannabis legalization bills: one that would have created a state-run monopoly for retail sales and another, more modest plan that would have allowed only small-scale personal use and home cultivation.

NJ – On its first day of sales, New Jersey sold nearly $2 million dollars in adult-use cannabis to more than 12,000 customers. Further, despite fears that recreational sales might threaten the supply for medicinal users, state data reveals that the medicinal market remained stable.

NY – New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the state’s Cannabis Control Board approved 52 adult-use conditional cultivator licenses across the state. Uniquely, regulators are allowing New York’s hemp growers to get involved in supplying the state’s adult-use cannabis industry.

NY – Last month, New York state’s Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe authorized stores on its reservation to begin sales of regulated adult-use cannabis. Three shops will offer cannabis and cannabis products for sale in compliance with the Tribe’s Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance. The ordinance states that adults age 21 or older can transport, possess and use up to 3 ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis.

OK – Oklahoma is on the verge of legalizing recreational cannabis. Two state ballot questions that aim to legalize recreational cannabis were approved recently by the state’s Supreme Court and may now proceed to the state’s Secretary of State for signature gathering. If proponents gather the necessary number of signatures, the two questions will end up before voters on the November ballot.

SC – Last week, a bill to legalize medical cannabis in South Carolina died on the House floor following multiple challenges by Republican senators.

SD – South Dakota activists have submitted enough valid signatures to place another recreational cannabis legalization initiative on the state’s November ballot. South Dakota voters already approved  such an initiative in 2020, but it was struck down by the state Supreme Court following a challenge supported by the Governor’s office.

Hemp/CBD

FDA Issues Warning Letter to Companies Illegally Selling CBD and Delta-8 THC Products – The US FDA last week issued warning letters to five companies for selling hemp-derived CBD and Delta-8 THC products in violation of federal law. The FDA is claiming that Delta-8 THC’s psychoactive and intoxicating effects may be dangerous to consumers.

U.K. Takes First Step to Police CBD-Infused Foods Market – Last month, the UK’s food regulator, the Food Standards Agency, took a first step towards reining in the proliferation of edible products containing CBD. The agency recommended local authorities crack down on edible items that are not included on the agency’s current list of CBD products linked to novel food applications.

International

Canadian Cannabis Sales Grow by 28 Percent Year Over Year – Cannabis sales have jumped over 28 percent nationwide in Canada, counted from February of 2021 to this year. The growth of the market varied by region, with Ontario up more than 64.7 percent and British Columbia up 25.3 percent over the same one-year period. Ontario has witnessed market consolidation , with large companies buying up retailers, and has also been subject to consumer price wars.

Africa Eyes the Global Cannabis Market – A company in Uganda is cultivating over 40,000 cannabis plants and supplying the German pharmaceutical market. For now, the country has a single cannabis licensee. In Germany, about 20 companies hold import licenses to supply the burgeoning medical cannabis market.

Albania to Regulate Cannabis Cultivation With Special Law – The Albanian Minister of the Interior has announced that he is drafting a law that will allow for the regulation, cultivation and production of medical cannabis in the country.

Thailand’s Rush for Weed Licenses Ahead of Narcotic Delisting in June – With Thailand scheduled to remove cannabis from its list of narcotics in June, over 4,700 have applied to the country’s FDA for licenses to import, possess, grow and produce cannabis and hemp.

Business

High on the Job? A Third of Corporate Workers Admit Using Weed on the Clock – A new survey from Blind, an anonymous social networking site for professionals, found that a third of workers have used cannabis while at the office or from home during working hours. Between 33 and 45 percent of surveyed workers at companies like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase say they’ve used cannabis on the job in the past three months, compared with less than 20 percent of workers at Apple, Coinbase and ServiceNow.

DoorDash Canada Will Partner with Superette for Cannabis Pickup – For the first time ever, DoorDash will allow for cannabis pickup on its app. Pickups will be offered through a partnership with Canadian cannabis retail and lifestyle brand Superette.

Medical/Health

Access to Recreational Cannabis Reduces Demand for Prescription Drugs – According to a new study, when states legalize cannabis, the volume of prescriptions within the drug classes that align with the medical indications for pain, depression, anxiety, sleep, psychosis and seizures significantly decline.

After Adult-Use Legalization in Uruguay, Researchers Study Impact on Cannabis Use by HS Students  – Researchers found that among young people in Uruguay the legalization of recreational cannabis was neither associated with overall increases in past-year or past-month cannabis use nor with any multi-year changes in risky cannabis use.

Study Finds States With Legal Cannabis Have Less Impaired Driving – An analysis of self-reported drivers under the influence of cannabis found that people are less likely to drive within three hours of consuming cannabis in those states that have legalized the substance (whether for adult or medical use) as compared to prohibition states.

Medical Cannabis Use’s Impact on Anxiety and Depression – A retrospective study of patients in Canada using cannabis for anxiety and depression saw improved outcomes. This is one of the latest studies providing evidence supporting the effectiveness of medical cannabis as a treatment for such mental health issues.

Dentons Speaks

Have We Asked for Cannabis Legalization to Do Too Much? – In a recent Law360 Expert Analysis, Dentons Cannabis Group Chair, Eric P. Berlin, notes that achieving consensus on federal cannabis legalization and regulation is, and will continue to be, very difficult given the multiplicity of competing interests.

Is Your Company Doing Everything It Can to Protect Its Cannabis-Related IP? – In this dynamic and highly competitive space, protecting your intellectual property is of paramount importance.  Dentons provides cannabis companies with the full spectrum of IP services including patent protection, trademark registration (where available), portfolio management, IP enforcement and licensing.  Take advantage of a complimentary consultation call to discuss the scope of IP protection available for your business.

Source:  https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/cannabis-client-alert-may-2022-6366679/

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