DEA agent warns of potential marijuana harms - A Drug Enforcement Administration agent advised that cannabis "will remain illegal under federal law—creating the potential for federal prosecution". Citing its potential to worsen crime and drug abuse, the agent further warned that the DEA will not "turn our head away from" cannabis just because it is legalized under state law.

In secret recording, Trump says marijuana makes people "lose IQ points" - President Trump can be heard saying that cannabis use makes people "lose IQ points" in a recently released video that was secretly recorded in April 2018. Lev Parnas (who would later become embroiled in the Ukraine scandal ) made the tape during a fundraising dinner and raised the issue of state-legal cannabis business' lack of access to banking services and also noted cannabis' potential as a safer alternative to opioid-based prescription painkillers.


CA - California's Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) announced new proposed emergency regulations that would make it mandatory for all cannabis businesses to post their unique Quick Response Code (QR Code) certificate in storefront windows and carry it with them while transporting or delivering cannabis. Once the proposed regulations are filed with and published as "under review" by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on the OAL website, there will be a five-calendar-day public comment period during which comments may be submitted to both the OAL and the BCC.

MD - Cheryl Diane Glenn (D), a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, the state legislature's lower chamber, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of defrauding Maryland citizens by soliciting and accepting bribes from cannabis businesses in exchange for acting on and influencing legislation. Among other things, Glenn promised to vote in favor of a bill to increase the number of medical cannabis grower and processor licenses available to out-of-state companies, and to push for changes to existing law that would prioritize in-state medical cannabis license applicants.

MI - The Detroit City Council voted to extend a moratorium on recreational cannabis sales within the city. The moratorium, which was initially scheduled to expire on January 31, was extended while the city drafts an ordinance regulating the industry. On the subject, Detroit City Councilman James Tate emphasized the importance of regulation in ensuring the industry is accessible to Detroit residents. The city "will not be rushed" in addressing appropriate barriers for Detroit residents, Tate said.

MI - The Michigan Senate approved a resolution in opposition to an earlier administrative rule proposal that would require cannabis businesses applying for state licenses to enter into "labor peace agreements" with a union. "... I think this (resolution) is a clear indication that the (Joint Committee on Administrative Rules) will do their job and reject these rules." Michigan Senator Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) commented. Michigan's Marijuana Regulatory Agency is set to hold a public hearing on the proposed rules on February 12.

MT - The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has released statistics about its medical cannabis program. Key changes highlighted in the analysis included a reported 367 percent increase in the number of cardholders since the legalization of medical cannabis, from 7,785 in October 2016 to 36,422 as of January 2020, and a 41 percent decrease in the number of providers from July 2018 to date. This reflects a smaller universe of providers for a larger number of cardholders, which could prove problematic.

NY - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) included in his 2021 budget proposal to the state legislature cannabis legalization which would regulate the "production, distribution, transportation and sale of cannabis, cannabis related products and medical cannabis" in the state. The Governor's proposal includes creating a new Office of Cannabis Management, social equity licensing opportunities, and plans to "correct past harms to individuals and communities that have disproportionally been impacted by prohibition," according to a press release. The proposal establishes three tiers of taxation applicable to retailers, cultivators and certain local jurisdictions, with the governor's projections estimating that New York stands to raise $20 million revenue for the 2021 fiscal year and $63 million in FY 2022.

USVI - US Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. (D) has repeated a call to legalize cannabis in his annual State of the Territory address, stressing that a commercial cannabis market bring in much needed tax revenue to support a variety of government programs, and namely, "begin the process of generating the new revenues required to stave off the insolvency" of the territory's ailing government employee retirement system. The proposal calls for a 30 percent tax on cannabis sales, with revenue expected to be more than $20 million annually.


AZ - Approximately 41 percent of hemp plants tested by the state have excessive THC levels, according to Arizona's Department of Agriculture. The department began analyzing hemp plants for THC levels before harvesting started in late 2019. "The failure rate is not unexpected based on anecdotal information from around the country regarding variable seed quality and genetic expression, for THC content, between the varieties planted" the associate director of the department's Plant Services Division, which oversees the state's hemp program, commented.

FL - The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services filed rules setting forth minimum standards for agricultural seeds, as well as a framework for commercial testing and consumer request samples.

KY - Kentucky's Commissioner of Agriculture announced that the state's Department of Agriculture will seek to transition from a hemp research pilot program to a commercial hemp program in 2020. The commissioner has also stated that instead of operating under newer federal rules, Kentucky will opt to continue to operate its program for the 2020 growing year under the 2014 state pilot provision, as permitted by the US Department of Agriculture's Interim Final Rule published in October 2019.

NY - The New York State Senate unanimously passed a bill laying out regulations for the hemp extract industry. Senate Bill S6968 creates a framework for grower, manufacturer and extractor licenses and requires the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets to develop new regulations for the production of hemp extracts. The bill also requires lab testing and incorporates labeling with QR codes linked to consumer information.


European Food Safety Authority - A January report published by the European Food Safety Authority concluded that eating hemp foods in high quantities could cause elevated THC levels that exceed safety thresholds set by the agency in 2015, potentially affecting the central nervous system and resulting in an increased heart rate. Notwithstanding its conclusion, the report also calls for additional studies, acknowledging "[t]here is documented uncertainty associated with the exact quantification of delta-9 THC in food due to analytical methods, extraction efficiency as well as in relation to conversions related to food processing."

Italy - In a decree published in January, the Italy Ministry of Health has established limits for foods made from hemp's grain. The maximum levels have been set at "2 milligrams per kilogram for flour, seeds and supplements derived from hempseed (grain)" and 5 milligrams per kilogram for oil derived from hempseed." Italy's THC limits for oil appear to be comparable to Germany's, though Italy's THC limits are higher for other food products.

Mexico - Leading into the new legislative session next month, Mexican lawmakers are again considering an amended draft bill to legalize and regulate cannabis . The proposed bill allows adults to possess up to 28 grams of cannabis for personal use, cultivate up to six plants and apply for a license to possess in excess of 28 grams up to 200 grams. It would also create a "Mexican Cannabis Institute" responsible for issuing business licenses and rulemaking. The legislature needs to reach a compromise and pass a bill by April 30, 2020, the extended deadline set by Mexico's Supreme Court to end cannabis prohibition in Mexico.

New Zealand - New Zealand's government is staging to repeal the nation's ban on cannabis vaporizers. The "cabinet has agreed to replace the Misuse of Drugs Utensils Notice with a notice that enables the import of vaporizers that have been approved as medical devices by an overseas regulator," said an unnamed Health Ministry spokesperson.


Akerna - Akerna, a cannabis compliance technology provider and developer, has completed its acquisition of a majority interest in privately-held Solo Sciences Inc., a developer of anti-counterfeiting and consumer engagement technologies. "This investment is the tangible result of our long term growth initiative and another important step towards Akerna's continuing commitment to creating the pre-eminent global technology platform addressing the entire supply chain and its regulatory bodies through accountability and transparency," said Jessica Billingsley, Akerna's CEO. "From our perspective, this technology is important to consumer safety and transparency."


Chronic pain treatment - A study by the International Journal on Drug Policy on the relationships between chronic pain and changes in health with cannabis consumption patterns concluded that "individuals with high pain are more likely to consume cannabis multiple times a day, but this use may not be related to better health."


Podcast: Regulation & legislation challenges of cannabis tech - Dentons attorney Ausra Deluard discusses the role and effects of technology and legal technologies on the emerging cannabis industry, as well as the accompanying regulatory and legislative challenges.

Dentons combines with two firms that will expand our coverage of cannabis and hemp laws to four additional states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. In the US, Dentons now has 33 offices and a presence in nine of the ten largest legal markets. Our clients benefit from a truly national firm that is able to serve throughout the country as we already do around the world. You will continue to be served by lawyers you know, but who are now connected to more than 10,000 lawyers in 182 locations and 74 countries around the world.

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