On Wednesday, two businessmen were convicted of a single count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1349) for orchestrating a scheme to disguise cannabis-related financial transactions as transactions unrelated to cannabis.[1]  The conviction followed the close of a three-week trial in the Southern District of New York, which was one of the first federal criminal trials to be held in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The jury deliberated for less than a day.  Sentencing is scheduled for June 25, 2021.
Continue Reading Online Cannabis Marketplace Businessmen Convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud

The trial of two men associated with an online cannabis marketplace began last week in the Southern District of New York.  Prosecutors seek to prove that Hamid Akhavan and Ruben Weigand, two businessmen who worked with the online platform from 2016 to 2019, conspired to commit bank fraud by disguising credit and debit card transactions for cannabis purchases as transactions for non-cannabis purchases.  While selling cannabis remains illegal under federal law, the case demonstrates how cannabis businesses face white collar enforcement risks unrelated to drug-trafficking charges.   
Continue Reading Bank Fraud Trial Highlights White Collar Enforcement Risks for Cannabis Industry

The end of 2020 was not the end of the California Legislature’s focus on employment-related legislation.  Just two months into the new year, the Legislature has already introduced several bills addressing the workplace that could impact employers who still may be implementing coronavirus-related legislation.  This article discusses two such bills on the horizon that employers will want to follow as they work their way through the Legislature.
Continue Reading California Legislative Update: Employment-Related Bills on the Horizon

On January 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the publication of its hemp production Final Rule in the Federal Register.  The Final Rule will go into effect on March 22, 2021.  The Final Rule largely builds upon the Interim Final Rule which was in effect for the 2020 hemp growing season.  It also takes into account feedback from three public comment periods.  Below are six key takeaways from the Final Rule:
Continue Reading USDA Hemp Production Final Rule

On January 25, 2021, the NLRB Division of Advice (“the Division”) released a memo that may indicate a change in the way workers engaged in cannabis activities are covered under federal labor law. Under the NLRA, the right to form and join a union is limited to employees. Agricultural laborers do not have that right under federal law. Despite the fact that many workers in the cannabis industry are often involved in the cultivation and harvesting of a crop, they have typically been considered employees rather than agricultural laborers under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or “the Act”). This recently released advice memo (available here) reverses that interpretation.
Continue Reading NLRB’s Division of Advice Determines Certain Workers in the Cannabis Industry Are Exempt From Federal Labor Law

On December 9, 2020, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3797—The Medical Marijuana Research Act (the “Bill”), expanding access to cannabis for medical research purposes.  In so doing, a bipartisan majority of members of the House of Representatives agreed that, while proponents and opponents of cannabis legalization are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts.
Continue Reading House Of Representatives Passes A Cannabis Bill That Republicans And Democrats Can Agree On

On Friday, the United States House of Representatives voted to approve The Marijuana Opportunity and Expungement Act (MORE Act),[1] which would decriminalize cannabis. This vote marks the first time that a chamber of Congress voted on a standalone cannabis bill.  While the 228-164 vote passed mostly on party lines, 5 Republicans voted in support of the bill, and 6 Democrats voted against.
Continue Reading Cannabis Gets Go-Ahead from House, But Still Faces Hurdles Before Federal Legalization

When it comes to whether unions have a right to enter an employer’s premises over the employer’s objections, California’s law is the polar opposite of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the law in most other states.  In California, unions generally have special access rights that nonlabor parties do not have.  Unions are given preferential treatment because of the state’s union-friendly public policies.  For example, under Assembly Bill 1291 (AB 1291) (AB 1291) and California Business and Professions Code Section 26001(x), any company engaged in the cultivation, packaging, distribution or sale of cannabis products cannot be licensed unless it agrees to enter into a labor peace agreement (LPA) with a union.  By statute, an LPA must, at minimum, (a) require the company not to “disrupt” the ability of unions to communicate with and to organize employees, and (b) grant workplace access to union organizers.  Likewise, under the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB)’s access regulations – which covers agricultural workers engaged in the cultivation of cannabis – agricultural employers are required to provide union organizers with access to their property to communicate with employees and engage in union organizing efforts for up to 120 days in a calendar year.[1]
Continue Reading SCOTUS to Consider Whether California Unconstitutionally “Takes” Private Property When It Compels Agricultural Employers to Grant Union Access to Private Property

This article is the second part of a two-part article which provides an overview of Texas cannabis-related legislation and regulations affecting Texas cannabis operators and consumers.  Part I[1] covered the State’s regulations for limited medical cannabis use and consumption. In this article, we will discuss the State’s hemp program for both consumable and non-consumable products.
Continue Reading Hemp Revisited: Beyond Medical Use, Texas Cautiously Legalizes Consumable and Non-Consumable Hemp Products

Even two weeks after Election Day, jurisdictions nationwide are riding high after a number of positive wins related to the possible systemic legalization of cannabis use nationwide.  As of November 3, 2020, the pendulum now undeniably swings in favor of cannabis, with medical cannabis legal in 33 states and recreational adult-use permitted in 12 states and Washington D.C.
Continue Reading Green Wave: The Latest Election Cycle Brings Hope for Standardized Cannabis Legalization