Tag Archives: cannabis law

California Cannabis Banking Bill – Moving Along with 35-1 Senate Vote in Favor – Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

The CA Senate voted 35-1 to allow banks and credit unions to accept cash deposits from marijuana retailers.

Per reporting from the Star Tribune, those banks would be permitted to issue special checks to the retailers that could only be used for certain purposes, including paying taxes and California-based vendors.

State lawmakers are of the view that such banks would make it easier for licensed cannabis retailers to pay their taxes, which fell far short of expectations in the first year after legalization.

“This is as close as we can get until the federal government changes its policy,” said Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Van Nuys Democrat and the author of the bill that now goes to the Assembly.

Per the Marijuana Law Reporter, Marijuana has been legal in California since January 2018, but it’s still illegal under federal law under the Controlled Substances Act.

-Brad A. Molotsky, Esquire

Patent and Trademark Office Issues New Guidelines for Hemp Following 2018 Farm Bill Legalization

On May 2, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) made available a new examination guide aimed at clarifying the examination procedure for trademarks used in connection with cannabis and cannabis-derived goods and services.

These guidelines are a direct response to the signing of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) into law on December 20, 2018. The 2018 Farm Bill changes certain federal authorities relating to the production and marketing of “hemp,” defined as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” These changes include removing hemp from the Controlled Substance Act’s (CSA) definition of marijuana, which means that cannabis plants and derivatives such as cannabidiol (CBD) that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer controlled substances under the CSA.

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

Immigrants Can Be Denied U.S. Citizenship for Working in Regulated Marijuana Industry

Last week the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued guidance indicating that working in the marijuana industry, or even just possessing cannabis, could be grounds to reject a citizenship application—regardless of whether it is done in a state where it is legal. This guidance also would apply to permanent residents or “green card” holders seeking citizenship. The policy guidance is set forth in the USCIS Policy Manual and seeks to clarify that violations of federal controlled substance law, including violations involving marijuana, are “generally a bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization, even where that conduct would not be an offense under state law.” The policy guidance also clarifies that an applicant who is involved in certain marijuana-related activities may lack good moral character if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity has been decriminalized under applicable state laws.

Reports by various news outlets indicate that some lawful immigrants have already been denied naturalization by USCIS because of their employment in the cannabis industry. According to USCIS, as long as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the agency won’t grant special considerations to individuals whose marijuana activities may be decriminalized under state or local law. The position of USCIS is that “marijuana remains illegal under federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance regardless of any actions to decriminalize its possession, use, or sale at the state and local level, federal law does not recognize the decriminalization of marijuana for any purpose, even in places where state or local law does.”

As we know, the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol has prevented some Canadian citizens from entering the U.S. because of their involvement in the cannabis industry. It remains unclear how strict USCIS will be in enforcing the latest policy guidance on citizenship. For the time being, participation in the cannabis industry will continue to constitute a potential bar to a determination of good moral character for naturalization eligibility, even where such activity is not a criminal offense under state law.

NJ Adult Use Bill – Two Steps Closer to a March 25th Vote – Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

According to late night reporting from NJ Biz – Dan Munoz, who has been all over this topic, committees in both the NJ Assembly & Senate approved a measure that would legalize adult-use recreational marijuana, setting the proposals for a showdown full-floor vote in 7 days from now on March 25.

Senate Bill 2703 passed by a 6-4 vote with one abstention in the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday evening while its counterpart, Assembly Bill 4497, passed by a 6-1 vote with two abstentions at the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Both measures would allow for anyone over 21 years of age to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

The product would be taxed at $42 an ounce and the industry would be regulated by a five-person Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which will function similarly to how the Casino Control Commission operated following the legalization of gambling in the 1970s.

The approval of both measures followed hours of closed-door meetings as lawmakers hammered out last-minute changes to the legislation, including a dramatically increased expungement process for people with marijuana-related convictions.

Stay tuned for a detailed analysis as the final bill is published. – Brad

NJ Adult Use Cannabis Bill Fast Tracked for March 25th Vote

Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders reached agreement on key provisions to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, including how to tax and regulate it, and expunging past low-level marijuana offenses for certain users as a step toward social reform per reporting from Dan Munoz.

Per a press release issued by key Assembly Senate and the Governor’s office, we should expect to see the introduction of a cannabis bill within days.
Under the terms of the agreement:

• Adult-use marijuana would be subject to an excise tax of $42 per ounce, which will be imposed when marijuana is cultivated.

• Municipalities that are home to a cultivator or manufacturer would receive the revenue from a 2 percent tax on the product within their jurisdiction.

• Municipalities that are home to a wholesaler would receive the revenue from a 1 percent tax on the product within their jurisdiction.

• Municipalities that are home to a retailer would receive the revenue from a 3 percent tax on the product within their jurisdiction.

To start to address social equity concerns, the revised legislation will likely provide an expedited expungement process for individuals convicted of low-level marijuana offenses, and a separate expungement process that would automatically prevent certain marijuana offenses from being taken into account in particular areas such as education, housing and occupational licensing.

Additionally, there are a number of provisions that aim to ensure broad-based participation for women owned and minority owned businesses, low and middle-income individuals, and disadvantaged communities.

Under the proposed legislation, adult-use marijuana would be governed by a Cannabis Regulatory Commission, composed of 5 members—three appointed directly by the Governor to serve terms of at least 4 years, and 2 appointed by the Governor upon the recommendations of the speaker and Senate president.

The commission would be tasked with promulgating all regulations to govern the industry and overseeing applications for licensing of adult-use marijuana dispensaries.

-Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control Submits Final Regulations for Administrative Review

The three agencies that regulate the cannabis market in California, the Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Food and Agriculture, and Department of Public Health, submitted a final version of regulations to the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) in California this month. The OAL reviews regulations for compliance with procedural requirements and substantive standards under California law. The OAL has 30 working days — until January 16, 2019 —  to review the regulations.

This blog post will highlight some of the important changes to the regulations made by the Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”). Continue reading California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control Submits Final Regulations for Administrative Review

Duane Morris’ Jerome Levy to Discuss Municipal Regulation of Marijuana

Duane Morris partner Jerome Levy will participate in the Strafford webinar, “Municipal Regulation of Marijuana: Guidance on Permitting, Licensing and Zoning for Medical and Recreational Uses,” on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Eastern time).

This CLE webinar will offer guidance to local government lawyers on regulating cannabis consumption for medical and recreational uses. The panel will discuss the patchwork of current regulatory efforts across the country and explore some of the most effective strategies for regulating in municipalities based on current case law and the interplay with state and federal regulation. For more information and to register, visit the Strafford website.

Constellation Brands’ $4B Cannabis Investment

Seth Goldberg
Seth A. Goldberg

On August 15, 2018, Constellation Brands, which owns popular beer, wine and spirits products, such as Corona, Robert Mondavi and High West, announced it is investing $4 billion in Canopy Growth, which is one of the leading investors in the global legal cannabis market.  The announcement boosted Cannabis market stocks in the US and Canada, and is likely to catch the eye of big alcohol, big tobacco, big pharma and larger consumer products companies that have been interested in entering the growing legal marijuana markets.  More and more companies once-hesitant about doing so are finding that good counsel can help them navigate the regulatory hurdles that might otherwise stand in the way of profiting from this exciting market.

Momentum Builds With Schumer’s Bill To Legalize Marijuana

Seth Goldberg
Seth A. Goldberg

Just weeks after Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo) introduced bi-partisan legislation to make marijuana lawful under a state’s marijuana laws also lawful under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation removing marijuana from the CSA altogether on Wednesday, June 27.  Schumer’s bill also comes just one day after Oklahoman’s passed legislation legalizing medical marijuana in their traditionally red state, and one day before the U.S. Senate passed legislation legalizing hemp for all purposes, including extracts from hemp, such as cannabidiol.

By removing from the purview of the CSA, state-legal cannabis and proceeds derived therefrom, the Warren/Gardner legislation, if passed, would likely have the effect of nationwide legalization, but state operators and consumers would still need to be concerned about marijuana’s Schedule 1 status under the CSA, whereas the Schumer bill, if passed, would eliminate those concerns by removing marijuana from the CSA.

Jennifer Fisher and Justin Santarosa

California Department of Public Health’s Re-Adopted Emergency Regulations

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is the state agency designated under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) as responsible for regulating cannabis manufacturing.

The CDPH issued emergency regulations for manufacturers in November 2017, and has now proposed readopting those regulations for another 180 days. Based on feedback from the public and stakeholders in the industry, the CDPH has proposed some changes to these regulations.

This blog post will highlight the changes to the CDPH emergency regulations and identify key issues for manufacturers. In separate posts, we will be describing the changes made by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.

Changes to Emergency Regulations:

  • The CDPH has removed the distinction of A and M Licenses and now only requires one application and applicants will only have to pay one licensing fee. Previously you had to submit two applications and pay two separate licensing fees if you wanted to operate in the medicinal and adult-use market.
  • The readopted regulations have now incorporated the previously released shared-use facility regulations, which allow a manufacturing premises to be used my multiple businesses that take turns utilizing the space and equipment. This allows for operations similar to a commercial kitchen or agreements in which larger manufacturers offer space and use of equipment to smaller manufacturers.
  • The CDPH has removed tinctures from the definition of a product containing more than 0.5% alcohol by volume. However, tinctures cannot be sold in a package larger than two fluid ounces and shall include a calibrated dropper or other measuring device

The change to only a single application for both medical and adult-use is a welcome change for manufacturing businesses. Overall, the CDPH did not make significant changes to its regulations.

If you have any questions about the regulations, please contact Jennifer Briggs Fisher in our San Francisco office or Justin Santarosa in our Los Angeles office.