The Week in Weed: September 2020 #3

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.

It’s the end of the road for Nebraska’s medical marijuana ballot initiative. Vermont seems likely to legalize cannabis sales. The MORE Act vote may be postponed. The IRS issued tax guidance for marijuana companies. The EU may classify CBD as a narcotic – an industry group is not happy. The wildfires are consuming cannabis farms, and many farmers lack insurance. And finally, marijuana legislation appeared in an answer on Jeopardy.


It was a roller coaster for Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, but the state’s Supreme Court has stopped the ride. The court ruled late last week that the measure was unconstitutional, thus it will not appear on the November 2020 ballot. The initiative would have both legalized medical marijuana and set up a system to manage it, and the justices decided that this violates the state’s single subject rule. Advocates announced that they will craft a new initiative for the 2022 ballot.


In other state news, Vermont looks likely to legalize marijuana sales. Home use and cultivation of cannabis became legal in 2018, but the law established no system for sales. Legislation currently moving through the legislature would set up such a system. Although the bill is expected to pass, the governor’s views on the subject are unknown at present. Further bulletins as events warrant.


Turning our attention to the federal government, supporters of the MORE Act anticipated no problem in voting to remove federal penalties for marijuana just a short time ago. Now, however, that vote may be delayed. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), long an opponent of hemp’s “illicit cousin,” has effectively tied the vote to virus relief legislation, saying that supporters of the bill are more interested in marijuana than aid to those suffering during the pandemic. The Act remains on the September schedule, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) says legislation to keep the government open and deal with COVID are more important.


For those in the cannabis industry, paying taxes can be quite a hassle. Now, the IRS has released guidance to make those payments less difficult. Topics covered include income reporting, cash payments, estimated tax and record keeping.


As we’ve reported before, a European Union Commission has reached a “preliminary conclusion” that CBD and other hemp extracts are narcotics. The European Industrial Hemp Association is now fighting that conclusion, writing letters to the EU’s commissioner for health and food safety and to the European Parliament.


We’ve all seen the devastation facing Western states as wildfires rage out of control. Cannabis farmers have not escaped; even if they are spared the flames, the smoke in the air can ruin marijuana crops. To add insult to injury, many are uninsured, as cannabis is still illegal under federal law, regardless of the fact that it’s legal in Washington, Oregon and California.


You know you’ve hit the mainstream when your product appears on Jeopardy!

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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