In this week’s edition:
- Virginia becomes the first Southern state to legalize cannabis
- Connecticut, Louisiana, and North Carolina advance legalization bills
- South Dakota Supreme Court to consider constitutionality of voter-approved legalization
- House committee chairs challenge DEA’s proposed hemp rules
- And more…
Koch-backed group joins marijuana push after Zoom with Snoop Dogg - A new cannabis advocacy coalition, The Cannabis Freedom Alliance, recently launched and includes among its membership organizations the Koch brothers founded Americans for Prosperity, the Reason Foundation, the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce and The Weldon Project. The alliance has expressed plans to reach out to libertarian-leaning Republicans such as Senators Rand Paul (R- KY) and Mike Lee (R - UT) and advocate for, among other things, removing penalties for cannabis criminal offenses, free market regulatory frameworks and low tax rates.
Where weed is legal - More than 40 percent of Americans now live in states that have fully legalized cannabis. Recently, this has included Virginia which passed a recreational legalization bill in February, followed by adult-use legalization in New York in March and New Mexico in April. Meanwhile, attempts to legalize medical and/or recreational cannabis have fallen short in a few states including Maryland, Hawaii, Wyoming and North Dakota.
CA - A study showed that California’s licensed cannabis retailers have been successful in preventing sales to minors, a key promise by cannabis advocates for legalization. The study consisted of randomized visits by “young-looking” individuals posing as customers to shops throughout California, testing the identification and age verification processes of retailers.
CT - Connecticut’s Judiciary Committee voted to narrowly advance Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D-CT) bill to legalize recreational cannabis statewide. The state legislature made several changes to the proposed bill, including allowing patients in the medical cannabis program to grow up to six plants at home beginning in 2022, permitting only existing medical establishments and social equity applicants to open retail locations until 2024, and requiring retailers to implement “social equity plans.”
GA - Under a bill passed by the General Assembly, Georgia could open thirty medical cannabis oil dispensaries. State law has permitted the use of cannabis oil since 2015. The pending Senate Bill 195 would allow six companies awarded cultivation and manufacturing licenses to open five dispensaries each. Each company would subsequently be permitted to open one additional dispensary per every 10,000 patients registered with the state’s medical cannabis program. The bill is currently awaiting Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R-GA) signature or veto.
LA - Rep. Richard Nelson (R-LA) introduced HB 524 which, if passed by the state legislature and approved by Louisiana voters, would legalize recreational cannabis statewide. The ballot proposition will first require approval by a two-thirds majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and then Louisiana voters who would vote in the November, 8 2022 election.
NV - In anticipation of the deadline for bills to make it through initial committee referral, the Nevada legislature passed several notable cannabis bills including AB 321, which would authorize lounges for consuming cannabis, and AB 400, which would reform the criteria for determining when someone is driving impaired from smoking cannabis.
NC - Following Virginia’s recent passage of legislation to legalize recreational cannabis, North Carolina lawmakers have introduced four bills in 2021 to legalize cannabis to some extent as well as a bill to reclassify certain cannabis-related crimes as “non-criminal” rather than misdemeanors.
OH - A bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers are looking to circumvent the state medical board and potentially add autism to the list of conditions eligible to be treated through medical cannabis pursuant to House Bill 60. Additionally, Sens. Steve Huffman (R - OH) and Kirk Schuring (R-OH) have indicated they are working on a bill that would overhaul Ohio’s entire medical cannabis system, including the regulation of dispensaries, cultivation and approval mechanisms.
SD - The South Dakota Supreme court is set to hear a case centering on Amendment A, a ballot measure passed by voters in November 2020 to legalize recreational cannabis state-wide. Governor Kristi Noem (R-SD) directed the state’s justice department to file suit against the amendment as unconstitutional, after which supporters of Amendment A appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court. The court will hear arguments on April 28.
TX - Proposed House Bill 1535, authored by State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-TX), would expand enrollment eligibility for the Texas Compassionate Use Program to those with chronic pain or cancer, as well as veterans with PTSD. The bill would also raise the cap on how much THC is permitted in state-legal medical cannabis by a factor of ten from .5% THC to 5%. Furthermore, the proposed bill would allow the Texas Department of State Health Services discretion to determine and add new qualifying conditions in the future.
VA - Virginia became the first Southern state to legalize cannabis through legislation that will permit adults to possess and cultivate small amounts of cannabis beginning in July 2021. The legalization of personal use and cultivation, originally scheduled for 2024, were advanced on an accelerated timeline through amendments proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam. Other aspects of the bill, including the establishing of a state cannabis regulatory agency and retail sales are set to take effect beginning January 1, 2024.
WY - In a federally funded crackdown on cannabis, police in Casper, Wyoming made nearly 400 traffic stops in the span of 14 hours to catch drivers suspected of traffic violations. The operation resulted in 13 arrests for drugs, the seizure of 1 pound of cannabis from one vehicle, and the seizure of 2.4 ounces from other vehicles.
US: DEA’s Proposed Hemp Rules Are Contrary To Intent Of Congress, Committee Chairs Say: Two House committee chairmen sent a letter to the heads of the US Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture, urging them to address concerns that the DEA’s Interim Final Rule on hemp would effectively criminalize “in-process” hemp extracts.
US: Alabama Lawmakers Are Working Adamantly to Ban Delta-8- and Delta-10-THC: Alabama lawmakers amended legislation originally banning tianeptine, an antidepressant with the potential for opioid-like effects, seeking to also ban Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC products. Before becoming law, the pending bill, House Bill 2, would need to be passed through the Senate and re-approved by the House.
US: Idaho Legislature sends bill to legalize industrial hemp to Gov. Brad Little’s desk: The Idaho legislature approved House Bill 126 which would authorize the production, processing, transportation and research of hemp statewide. The bill would also create a dedicated fund to collect state revenues from the program. The bill is currently awaiting signature by Gov. Brad Little (R-ID).
Mexico - Mexico’s senate is once again considering seeking an extension of a Supreme Court deadline to legalize cannabis after determining that a reform bill moving through the chamber contains multiple “inconsistencies” and could be unconstitutional. The initial deadline was October 2019, which has since been extended multiple times. Senators have indicated that the current bill is critically internally conflicted, including with respect to provisions concerning legal possession limits and the definition of hemp.
France - Polling reflects that the legalization of cannabis is France is extremely popular. In a poll, more than 80% of respondents reported that they supported cannabis legalization within a regulated legal framework while less than 6% supported maintaining the status quo or increasing penalties.
Curaleaf - Multistate cannabis operator Curaleaf Holdings secured $130 million in funding from an unidentified “strategic institutional investor” in exchange for a 31.5% equity stake in its new venture, Curaleaf International Holdings. According to a press release, “The subscription will fund the entire cash portion of the Emmac acquisition consideration of $50 million with the remaining $80 million to be used to fund Curaleaf International’s current capital expenditures plan through 2022, as well as its pipeline of potential acquisitions.”
cbdMD - cbdMD, Inc. announced an exclusive CBD sponsorship with professional golfer Patrick Read.
Field Sobriety Tests and THC Levels Unreliable Indicators of Marijuana Intoxication - A study by the National Institute of Justice found that THC levels in biofluids did not correlate with performance in field sobriety tests commonly used to detect driving under the influence and were not reliable indicators of cannabis intoxication.
Partner Eric Berlin guest lectured to the cannabis law class at Vanderbilt Law School.