It is undeniable that, not only is the cannabis industry here to stay, but it is growing exponentially.  To date, 47 states, 4 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis in some form – whether they decriminalize production, allow uses limited to cannabidiol (“CBD”) or hemp, or is as expansive as permitting THC-containing cannabis for medical use, adult-use or both.  Yet, in comparison to other industries, legitimate licensed cannabis-related businesses remain hobbled by the difficulties they face in accessing traditional banking and financial services – largely due to the fact that “marijuana” is still considered illegal on the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”).  Currently, financial institutions (including federally-insured banks) are hesitant, and oftentimes unwilling, to work with cannabis-related businesses due to fear of reprisal from federal banking regulators.

Continue Reading SAFE Banking Act of 2021: Where Are We on Cannabis Banking Change?

California’s comparable-to-organic “OCal” certification program for cannabis and nonmanufactured cannabis products officially went into effect on July 14, 2021.  The OCal program represents a new branch of state cannabis regulation, but remains firmly rooted in existing state and federal organics standards and procedures.  Its goal is to “assure consumers” that certified OCal products “meet a consistent standard comparable to standards met by products sold, labeled, or represented as organic.”

Continue Reading California Breaks New Ground With OCal: Answers to Key Questions About “Comparable-to-Organic” Cannabis

In January 2020, Illinois legalized the use of recreational marijuana through the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (“the Act”).  Two months later, many employees began working remotely because of the pandemic.  Today, work-from-home continues to blur the lines between “work” and “home” in countless ways, and employee drug policies are no exception.  The new world of remote work has left many employers wondering what to do with their drug policies now that cannabis is legal and their employees are remote or hybrid.  Can an employer lawfully prevent their employees from using cannabis while working from home?

Continue Reading What Do I Do With My Workplace Drug Policy Now That Cannabis Is Legal in Illinois and My Employees Are Remote?

This article originally appeared on Law360 on June 25, 2021.

On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid.  The ruling invalidated a California labor regulation that requires growers to grant union organizers seeking to represent their workers property access, and declared it an unconstitutional taking of the grower’s property in violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments.  Several other California laws and decisions sanction similar union trespass onto private property.  For example, numerous state court decisions have granted unions access to private property of employers with whom they have a dispute on the theory that such access is required in order to enable labor to communicate its message to the public and to put economic pressure on the employer.  Likewise, California’s statutes have been applied to grant special protections to labor speech and to bar courts from enjoining union trespass on private property.  See e.g., Ralphs Grocery Co. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 8, 55 Cal.4th 1083 (2012); UFCW, Local 324 v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, 83 Cal.App.4th 566 (2000); cf. Waremart Foods v. NLRB, 354 F.3d 870 (D.C. Cir. 2004).[i]  Cedar Point offers a new avenue of attack against such union invasions of an employer’s property and a possible leg up on getting such trespasses enjoined in the future.
Continue Reading SCOTUS Decision May Force Reversal of California Laws Sanctioning Union Trespass

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