QR Codes for Retailers, Distributors, and Delivery

On February 13, 2020, The Bureau of Cannabis Control’s (BCC) emergency rulemaking for Quick Response Code (QR Code) certificate requirements was approved by the Office of Administrative Law. The new rules are effective immediately. The new rules require licensed commercial cannabis storefront retailers to prominently display their QR Code certificate on their premises. The new rules also requires licensed commercial cannabis distributor and delivery employees to carry a copy of the QR Code certificate while transporting or delivering commercial cannabis goods.
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Effective January 1, 2020, Nevada became the first state to ban employers from refusing to hire job applicants for testing positive for cannabis use. Governor Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill No. 132 (AB 132) on June 5, 2019, after state lawmakers approved it. AB 132 has two primary effects. First, it makes it unlawful for Nevada employers to refuse to hire a prospective employee because the individual submitted to a drug screening test and the results of the test indicate the presence of cannabis. Second, if an employer requires employees to submit to a drug screening test in the first 30 days of employment, the law allows employees who test positive for cannabis to rebut the results by submitting an additional screening test, at the employee’s own expense, which the employer must then consider. Despite these rather clear edicts, AB 132 has created some confusion for Nevada employers, given no regulations or additional guidance has yet been issued.
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In a case of first impression, the New Jersey Appellate Division determined that employers in the state must reimburse employees for medical cannabis following a workplace accident, despite federal prohibitions against cannabis distribution.  The January 13, 2020 decision in Hager v. M&K Construction, Case No. A-0102-18T3, is the first time a court in the state has required reimbursement for a cannabis prescription in the workers’ compensation context, and may signal a fresh judicial focus on the scope of lawful medical cannabis use in the employment context both in New Jersey and in states with similar laws.

The Hager decision has clear implications for New Jersey employers, who are now required to reimburse injured employees for medical cannabis (at least under circumstances similar to those presented in the case).  Employers in other states that have legalized medical cannabis but have yet to rule on the interplay between the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) and state law in workers’ compensation disputes should also take note in the event that similar reimbursement requests arise.


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We previously explored the applicability of trade secret protection to cannabis-related inventions. Here, we provide an overview of patent trends in the cannabis industry and how cannabusinesses can use patents to protect their technological, agricultural, genetic, or other innovations. In short, cannabis-related inventions may be patentable and cannabusinesses should work with counsel to identify which innovations may benefit from patent protection.

The cannabis plant (“marijuana”) remains a Schedule I drug under federal law, despite the increasing number of states legalizing cannabis. However, there is no express legality requirement for patent eligibility. So while the actual practice or use of a patented cannabis-related invention may be illegal under federal or some state laws, such illegality should not preclude issuance of a patent, if all of the requirements of patentability are met. In fact, the cannabis-related patent landscape has become increasingly crowded over the past five years with companies staking their early claims to growing methods, delivery methods, supply chain management, extraction techniques, vaporizers, medical treatments, pharmaceutical compositions, and more. Further, the number of jurisdictions legalizing cannabis is increasing, signaling the need for cannabis stakeholders to consider developing strategic domestic and foreign patent portfolios.
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This post originally appeared as an article in Cannabis Business Executive on December 5, 2019.

A cannabis product business is no simple venture. Cannabusinesses have to innovate to remain competitive just like any other company, but in an industry plagued by complex and changing federal and state regulations of marijuana (aka cannabis). At the heart of every innovation lies potentially protectible intellectual property (IP) rights and that is no different in the cannabis industry. In our two-part article, we provide cannabis entrepreneurs with an overview of the IP protections available to them for their innovations. In Part I, we discuss trade secret protection. In Part II, we will cover patent protection. In both parts, we will address choosing between trade secret and patent protection.
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The California Legislature has passed Assembly Bill 1482 – Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“AB 1482”), providing for comprehensive statewide residential rent control and eviction protections.  Signed by Governor Newsom in October 2019, and commencing January 1, 2020, AB 1482, among other things, requires a landlord to evict a tenant only for “just cause” if the tenant has occupied the property for more than 12 months.  (See original post here.)  AB 1482 will remain in effect until January 1, 2030.
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On November 25, 2019, FDA issued Warning Letters to 15 companies illegally marketing cannabidiol (CBD) products. On the same day, U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published a revised consumer update, “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD,” describing the “very limited” scientific information available about CBD and its health effects. The points made in the Warning Letters and update are nothing new to those closely following the FDA working group on cannabis and CBD, but the actions signal the FDA’s continued enforcement against companies marketing CBD foods, supplements, and cosmetics with unsupported health claims.
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On November 20, 2019, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would decriminalize cannabis on a nationwide scale. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 – or MORE Act – passed with what some are calling a landslide vote of 24-10, with two Republicans – Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) – crossing party lines to join in supporting bill. This vote marks the first time in history a congressional committee has affirmatively approved to end federal cannabis prohibition. The committee markup of the MORE Act is historical in and of itself, as it represents the first debate that was not centered on whether cannabis prohibition should be abolished, but, instead, focused on implementation of a policy that would ultimately accomplish cannabis legalization.
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The legalization of cannabis in several states had left a major question unanswered: is an employee who violates the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) by distributing cannabis as part of his or her job still subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which provides for the payment of wages?
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On October 29, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its long-awaited interim final rule governing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program. USDA has been developing these interim regulations since hemp was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. These hotly anticipated rules are important not only for hemp producers and hemp-derived product companies, but for cannabis companies interested in diversifying or pivoting into a crop that is legal under federal law.
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On October 12, 2019, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1291 (“AB 1291”) into law, which requires companies to sign a so-called “labor peace” agreement with a union or risk losing their cannabis license; thereby, strengthening already union-friendly statewide cannabis law.
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