If you’re looking for a landslide in the 2020 elections, look no further than the undisputed winner—marijuana. In each of the ballot initiatives up for consideration, voters said yes to expanded liberalization in cannabis-related laws by undeniably wide margins. Voters from across the political spectrum in red and blue states alike approved medical and recreational cannabis laws, including the legalization of medical cannabis in Mississippi and South Dakota and the legalization of cannabis possession by adults in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. Legislatures will soon enact laws in conformance with these ballot initiatives. A total of 35 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, 15 of which allow adults to legally use the drug for recreational use as of November 2020.
Continue Reading What Financial Institutions Need to Know About Banking Legal Cannabis Companies

On December 7, 2020, cannabis industry leaders, former federal government officials, and leading state regulators met for a Virtual Public Policy Summit, a policy discussion among key leaders in the cannabis industry that was co-hosted by the Marijuana Policy Project and the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). Participating industry leaders discussed how to define and address key issues to help advance the cannabis industry in 2021 and beyond. To help facilitate candid discussion, the event was closed to the media (likewise, comments made and positions taken described below have not been ascribed to particular speakers).
Continue Reading Striving to Reach Consensus on a Regulatory Framework for the Emerging Cannabis Industry

Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (“MORE”) Act.  The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and would eliminate criminal penalties for the manufacture, distribution, and possession of marijuana.

The MORE Act also makes other changes to existing law, such as making Small Business Association loans and services available to cannabis-related business and service providers; requiring the Bureau of Labor Statistics to public demographic data on cannabis businesses owners and employees; creating a reinvestment program to administer services to individuals and communities adversely affected by the War on Drugs, and prohibiting the denial of federal public benefits on the basis of cannabis-related conduct or convictions.
Continue Reading House Passes MORE Act, Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana

On November 17, a California court tossed a challenge to a statewide rule allowing delivery of cannabis to any jurisdiction in the state. The state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”) issued a regulation that “[a] delivery employee may deliver [cannabis] to any jurisdiction within the State of California.” 16 C.C.R. § 5416. Many local jurisdictions in California have regulated or limited the sale and delivery of marijuana within their borders. Fearing that the regulation would preempt their local ordinances, a group of these jurisdictions brought suit challenging the BCC’s rule.
Continue Reading California Court Dismisses Pot Delivery Challenge

Legalization of marijuana continues at the state level including in several new states this November, but it remains illegal at the federal level. Given this illegal status, businesses and individuals directly involved in the marijuana industry have often been unable to obtain relief in federal bankruptcy courts—with bankruptcy courts dismissing marijuana cases because the purported debtor’s conduct is unlawful under federal law. Three cases decided in 2020 highlight potential barriers to bankruptcy protection faced by debtors even when they are only indirectly involved in the marijuana industry.
Continue Reading Marijuana Industry Takes a Big Hit in Federal Bankruptcy Court in 2020

Legalized recreational marijuana was on the ballot in four states last night, and it won in all four. Arizona, New Jersey, Montana, and South Dakota now bring the total number of U.S. states that have legalized recreational marijuana to 15, along with the District of Columbia. Notably, these changes were primarily the result of ballot initiatives, which is typical of the “grassroots” (pun intended) way in which marijuana has been legalized in most states, suggesting a rare point of democratic consensus in otherwise divided times. A fifth state, Mississippi, legalized medical marijuana, as well.
Continue Reading Marijuana on the Ballot: Four More States Legalize Recreational Pot

A former part owner of a failed venture sued the venture’s former CEO, Paul Smith, alleging he misappropriated trade-secret hemp strains, selling them to a Canadian cannabis company for nearly $4 million.

In its September 21, 2020 complaint, Big Wuf Enterprises, LLC and its principal, W. John Short, allege their former venture, YCG Holdings LLC,

The Sixth District Court of Appeal held that a medical marijuana dispensary could recover its marijuana plants seized by law enforcement, finding that violation of the ordinance did not render medical marijuana plants “contraband” per se and subject to seizure. Granny Purps, Inc. v County of Santa Cruz, 54 Cal.App.5th 1 (2020). Read the full

The possession, distribution, and use of cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Consequently, in isolation, employers may believe that enforcing their zero-tolerance policies for drug use (as referenced here, zero-tolerance refers to policies that prohibit any on-duty or off-duty use of unlawful cannabis products) remains a defensible position, including in response to employee complaints that such policies restrict employees’ otherwise permissible use of cannabis products. But how does state legalization of recreational and medical cannabis use fit into the mix? As states become increasingly tolerant of cannabis use, employers may need to reconsider whether their anti-drug and drug-testing policies are compliant with applicable law in order to minimize the risk of discrimination or failure-to-accommodate claims resulting from the employer’s restrictions on the purportedly lawful use of cannabis products.
Continue Reading Zero Tolerance for Zero-Tolerance Policies? The Impact of Cannabis Legalization on Workplace Drug Policies

Kern County’s ordinance banning marijuana dispensaries was validly reenacted because a “material change in circumstances” had occurred since the County previously repealed a similar ordinance in response to a referendum petition.  County of Kern v. Alta Sierra Holistic Exchange Service, No. F077887 (5th Dist., March 6, 2020).

In 2011, the County adopted an ordinance