[author: Susan Ryan]
Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.
The big news this week is that cannabis banking is included in the latest federal relief bill. SBA funds, however, are not. There’s also lots of state news. We’ve got an update on the latest Montana legalization developments. Maine made changes to their marijuana program. Missouri is having issues with their medical marijuana licensing. Minnesota introduced a legalization bill and of course, there’s more news from Massachusetts. So let’s get started.
The latest proposal submitted by House Democrats, entitled the HEROES Act, includes a provision that would allow “…access to financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers…” The language is from the SAFE Banking Act passed by the House last year. Whether the Senate will retain this language, considering that they have taken no action on the SAFE Banking Act, is not certain. Groups opposing marijuana legalization said the measure “makes no sense.”
The news on access to loans and other support from the Small Business Administration was less rosy. Although NORML and other advocacy groups asked that state-legal marijuana businesses gain access to this relief, that language did not make it into the legislation.
We reported last week on the DOJ’s memo finding that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s cannabis research program is non-compliant with international drug laws. The National Cannabis Industry Association would like to get the DEA out of research entirely, and state-level research could be a substitute for the federal program.
Following up on last week’s news, New Approach Montana has begun collecting signatures to put legalization on the November ballot. The group promises to follow safety protocols, so they can muster the support they need, without risking anyone’s health.
The course of adult-use cannabis in Maine has not run smooth. Although the legislature finally overrode the governor’s veto to enact legalization in 2018, dispensaries are still not open. Local approvals have been slowed by the coronavirus, and state regulators will only open the program when enough stores are available to meet the expected demand. In other Maine news, the state recently removed its four-year residency requirement to obtain a license.
Legislators are considering lifting the cap on medical marijuana licenses in the state. If passed, any business that meets the state’s minimum requirements would receive a license. This move comes amidst an investigation into the medical marijuana program.
MINNESOTA LEGALIZATION PROPOSAL
House of Representatives Majority Leader Ryan Winkler introduced a bill this week that would legalize adult-use marijuana in the state. The bill would establish an Office of Social Equity to distribute grants to promote economic opportunity and community stability.
It seems as if Massachusetts cannabis just can’t stay out of the news lately. You will recall that medical marijuana dispensaries are essential businesses and allowed to remain open. You will also recall that recreational stores were forced to close. A group of industry representatives met with Governor Baker’s reopening advisory board earlier this week to plead their case for reopening. No word yet on any change in policy.
Finding certain paper products and cleaning supplies has been a challenge for many of us during this pandemic. Georgia-Pacific and Canadian company Bast Fibre Technologies are hoping to bring hemp toilet paper and cleaning wipes to store shelves.
Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!