United States: Cannabis Group Weekly Alert - Week of July 2, 2019

Bills were introduced in Congress to allow for interstate cannabis commerce and to end the practice of deporting and denying citizenship to immigrants engaged in cannabis-related activities.

States continue to expand their legal cannabis markets, with Maine formally adopting rules for adult-use cannabis sales, New Hampshire passing a law allowing physicians assistants to prescribe medical cannabis, and New Jersey soon to sign legislation expanding access to medical cannabis.

The US Department of Agriculture is aiming to publish federal rules for legal hemp production by August 1. Florida passed a law providing for an industrial hemp program.

Read more about these and other cannabis-related stories below.

Federal

Days after their home state governor in Oregon signed a bill on cannabis imports and exports that is contingent on federal reform, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) filed legislation in Congress to allow state-legal cannabis to move in interstate commerce.

The Department of Justice intends to continue its longstanding policy of preventing cannabis businesses and workers in the cannabis industry from filing for bankruptcy.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, filed a bill that would end the practice of deporting and denying citizenship to immigrants for using cannabis or engaging in cannabis-related activities (e.g., working at a state-licensed dispensary).

The Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the Internal Revenue Service's enforcement of the 280E tax penalty against a cannabis business.

Marijuana Moment conducted a deep analysis of Congress's recent vote on an amendment that would block the Department of Justice from interfering with state cannabis laws. The analysis reveals which lawmakers flipped their vote since the amendment's last consideration in 2015, how state legalization laws made a difference in the tally and which lawmakers from legal states voted in favor of Department of Justice interference.

States

California lawmakers passed a bill that would extend the lifespan of provisional cannabis business licenses until 2022. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is expected to sign the bill.

California cannabis packaging regulations will require all vaporizer cartridges to display the state's version of the industry's universal symbol. All noncompliant products must be shipped by June 30 and sold by December 31.

California cannabis retailers' practice of charging cannabis product providers for shelf space is facing criticism.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said that cannabis will not be legalized while he is governor and that it has a "detrimental effect" on young people.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed a bill creating a framework for legal cannabis sales.

Massachusetts regulators announced that starting on July 1 medical cannabis patients will be permitted to enter dispensaries and obtain medical cannabis while the state is processing their formal registration cards.

Michigan regulators published a cannabis licensing report summarizing, among other things, application determinations and reasons for denial.

Missouri regulators announced that the state generated almost $3.9 million in pre-filed fees from 543 companies planning to apply for medical cannabis business licenses. Formal applications for medical cannabis business licenses will not be accepted by the state until August 3. The state began accepting formal applications for medical cannabis patients on June 28.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed a bill allowing physician assistants to recommend medical cannabis. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) also vetoed a bill that would have let medical cannabis dispensaries operate as for-profit companies, noting that passing such bill would "incentivize out-of-state special interests to acquire equity in New Hampshire [Alternative Treatment Centers]" and "would represent too great of a step towards the dangerous path of industrial commercialization of the marijuana industry in New Hampshire."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) will sign medical cannabis expansion legislation that was recently approved by lawmakers. The new bill includes provisions to phase out the sales tax on medical cannabis by 2022, creates a five-member Cannabis Regulatory Committee to oversee the state's medical cannabis program, bars vertical integration for future cannabis businesses (allowing preexisting vertically integrated cannabis businesses to continue operating as such), reduces the amount of doctor visits required to be eligible for a cannabis prescription from four per year to one per year, increases the 90-day patient prescription supply limit to one year and allows for cannabis consumption areas.

In New Mexico, Albuquerque police have issued zero citations for cannabis possession since the city enacted decriminalization a year ago.

One year after Oklahoma voters legalized medical cannabis, more than 3.5 percent of the state's population has already registered as patients. Unlike most other states' medical cannabis laws, Oklahoma's is not limited to a list of specific qualifying medical conditions.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a bill allowing interstate cannabis imports and exports, though its implementation is contingent on federal legal permissibility.

West Virginia's medical cannabis program will not be ready to launch by the original July 1 deadline. Officials estimate a two- to three-year delay.

Hemp and CBD

The US Department of Agriculture issued an update on implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, noting that it is aiming to publish federal rules for legal hemp production by August.

The American Bankers Association sent a letter asking federal financial regulators to issue guidance clarifying how banks can serve hemp and CBD businesses.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill establishing a state hemp program.

New York City's Department of Health is requiring that businesses no longer sell food and drink items containing CBD by July 1.

International

The Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada says that a Conservative government would not seek to overturn cannabis legalization and would continue to support pardons for people convicted of cannabis offenses.

Ireland's Minister for Health signed legislation establishing a pilot medical cannabis program.

Switzerland introduced plans to expand patient access to medical cannabis and replace the current system that requires patients seeking medical cannabis to apply for an exception from the Federal Health Office. If passed as law, doctors would be permitted to directly prescribe cannabis to patients while Swissmedic, Switzerland's drug regulatory agency, would be permitted to grow, process and sell medical cannabis.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released the 2019 World Drug Report. Among other findings relating to cannabis, the report found that cannabis continues to be the most widely used drug worldwide and that an estimated 3.8 percent of the global population aged 15–64 years (approximately 188 million people) used cannabis at least once in 2017.

Business

Abercrombie & Fitch will begin selling Green Growth Brands' CBD products. The retailer plans to sell the products in more than 160 of its 250-plus stores.

New data from the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network shows a significant increase in the number of banks willing to work with cannabis businesses as cannabis financial services legislation gains momentum in Congress. As of March 2019, 493 banks and 140 credit unions are reported to have actively serviced cannabis businesses.

A report from analytics firm New Frontier Data suggests that most US states' adult-use and medical cannabis laws underestimate and are failing to sufficiently regulate the energy demands of the cannabis industry.

Canadian pharmaceutical and cannabis company Tilray Inc. imported its first batch of medical cannabis oil into the UK.

Medical and Health

Researchers from Israel's Rabin Medical Center and Soroka University Medical Center found that "Medical cannabis appears to be a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms."

Researchers from Italy's University of Modena and Reggio Emilia found that "hemp essential oil can inhibit or reduce bacterial proliferation and it can be a valid support to reduce microorganism contamination, especially in the food processing field."

Researchers from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia found that "cannabidiol possesses surprisingly effective activity as an antibiotic, comparable to widely used antibiotics...but with retention of activity against bacteria that have become resistant to these drugs" and that "the combination of inherent antimicrobial activity and potential to reduce damage caused by the inflammatory response to infections is particularly attractive."

Research published in Current Developments in Nutrition (CDN), the American Society for Nutrition's peer-reviewed, open access journal, found that "women who screened positive for THC during preconception, or self-reported use during the past year had reduced fecundability, though no associations were observed with live birth or pregnancy loss."

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy has launched a new Master of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics.

About Dentons

Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways. Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons' global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients of any size in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries. www.dentons.com.

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