The Week in Weed: September 2020 #2

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

[author: Susan Ryan]

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.

The USDA is allowing more comments on its new hemp rule. The House voted to allow marijuana research. We have an update on the Nebraska situation. Illinois’ social equity program comes under fire, while Maryland’s program is cleared of bias. And cannabis is falling from the sky in Israel.


Regular readers will doubtless recall the general unhappiness over the USDA’s hemp rule, published in October 2019. The agency responded this week by reopening the comment period. It now runs until October 8, 2020.


In other federal news, the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2019 advanced out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by unanimous voice vote this week. The bill would facilitate production of marijuana for use by researchers and expressly forbids interference by the Department of Justice or the Attorney General.


As we’ve reported before, Nebraska’s medical marijuana initiative has had a rocky road to the ballot. The state’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments late last week on whether to allow the measure to proceed to the voters. The court could rule any day, so look for more on this subject next week.


In other state news, Illinois’ social equity program faces accusations that it shut out the very people it exists to help. The program grants those who live in an area disproportionately affected by cannabis laws in the past or have past convictions additional points on applications for business licenses. Now a lawsuit has been filed that claims places in the lottery system that will distribute licenses have gone to well-connected insiders.


Illinois isn’t the only state answering questions about its licensing process. Unsuccessful applicants in Maryland claimed the state’s process lacked transparency and was subject to undue influence. An investigation recently found “no evidence of bias.”


Call it manna from heaven. Bags of cannabis fell from a drone over Rabin Square in Tel Aviv last week. Sponsored by a group supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana, this may be the first of many “deliveries,” as COVID limits in-person contact. Keep watching the skies!

Stay safe and be well everyone – we’ll see you next week!

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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