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.
Even though cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance under U.S. federal law, the United States Patent Office (USPTO), a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, routinely grants patents covering cannabis-related technologies. The Schedule I classification of cannabis is not relevant to patentability. As with any other invention, to be patentable, a cannabis-related invention must be new, useful, and nonobvious, and teach one of ordinary skill in the art how to make and use the invention. The USPTO has determined that many cannabis-related patent applications have met these requirements. Patents granted to cannabis-related inventions cover an enormous range of technologies, including cannabis plants, growing systems, extracts, methods of making extracts, foodstuffs, veterinary products, and methods of treating various diseases and disorders.
Banking continues to be a challenge for the cannabis industry. But, Wells Fargo recently erected a new barrier: It closed the campaign bank account of Nikki Fried, candidate for Agriculture Commissioner of Florida. According to a report in the New York Times on August 21, 2018, the bank took notice of the candidate’s advocacy for better access to medical marijuana. It then asked the campaign whether it accepted contributions from lobbyists for the medical marijuana industry. When the campaign replied it accepted contributions from executives and employees in the industry, Wells Fargo closed the account. The campaign now banks at BB&T. Full New York Times Story
As many know, hemp was a critical crop in Colonial times and some states, including Virginia, actually required farmers to grow it. Hemp was used particularly to make rope, thread, canvas and sailing cloth. Washington’s primary crop actually was hemp. Thomas Jefferson grew hemp as well.
The Mount Vernon farmers intend to use the hemp they grow to give fiber-making demonstrations at the site, which is owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union. They bought the site from Washington’s descendants in 1858 for $200,000 and now about a million visitors each year tour the facility. Many do not realize that Mount Vernon is not owned by the Federal government and is not a national park.
Hemp, while derived from the cannabis plant, contains no THC and has no psychoactive effects. In June, the Senate passed a farm bill that included language effectively legalizing industrial hemp. However, the House version of the bill is silent on hemp, and a conference to deal with the differences is being arranged. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a strong supporter of legalizing hemp, which many believe will help sway some skeptical House Republicans to support those provisions.
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.
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.
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.
On the White House lawn this morning, getting ready to leave for the G-7 summit in Canada, Pres. Trump made positive comments about the cannabis bill introduced yesterday by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The STATES Act would allow states the freedom to legalize cannabis within their borders with no federal enforcement action permitted. The text of the Senate bill, just released, removes state legal cannabis from enforcement under the Controlled Substances Act.
On the lawn, the President said of the bill, “I probably will end up supporting that, yes.” He said, “We’re looking at it,” but also noted that he “really” supports Sen. Gardner. Of course the bill has to be passed by Congress before being sent to the President. The question is whether the process can be completed before the “silly season” of midterm elections brings most legislative activity to a stop. Trump promised to support a bill like this in exchange for Sen. Gardner resuming approval of judicial nominations, which he had stopped after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era memo de-emphasizing federal enforcement against actors in cannabis legal states.
The House version of the bill was introduced this morning but text is not yet available. The initial sponsors will be Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The bill also appears to effectively repeal IRS Code Section 280E which prevents cannabis companies from deducting ordinary business expenses. It also removes activity by cannabis companies being assumed to be money laundering, which will hopefully help more banks to take cannabis companies as customers. Certainly a dramatic potential development.
Yesterday, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Cory Gardner introduced bipartisan legislation that, if passed, would make the regulation of marijuana a state issue. Comments by Senator Gardner show public safety issues resulting from the dearth of banking providing services to the industry are a focus of the newly-proposed legislation. The Hill reports Gardner stating when introducing the legislation:
“This city of Denver, the state of Colorado, can collect taxes … they can take it to the bank,” Gardner said. “But if you’re in the business, if you work for the business, you can’t get a bank loan or set up a bank account because of the concern over the conflict between the state and federal law. We need to fix this public hypocrisy.”
It was widely reported on April 13, 2018, that President Trump promised to Senator Gardner that he would support a states’ rights approach to marijuana, which promise appears to have resulted in this proposed legislation. A lot has to happen before this bill reaches Trump, but if it does, a veto may be unlikely. Such states’ rights legislation could then pave the way for more banks to service the industry.