Federal cannabis reform is once again on the move in Congress. On Friday, April 1, 2022, the U.S. House of Representative passed the latest iteration of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. This is Congress’s oldest comprehensive measure, and it aims to decriminalize cannabis on the federal level by removing it from the list of controlled substances while providing certain social reforms to address the detrimental repercussions of the War on Drugs.[1]

Continue Reading The House Does It Again: MORE Act Ready for Senate Action

Hope soared with the possibility of federal cannabis reform in 2021.  And for good reason – the induction of a new, more liberal administration, rapid state-level legalization, broad support by Americans,[1] and growing bipartisan backing led many to believe that 2021 was going to be the year where federal decriminalization of cannabis would become a reality.  But, as 2021 continued on, optimism dwindled as any advancement in federal cannabis reform was hobbled by the inability of Congress to agree on the appropriate level of reform and the proper mechanics for passage.  Specifically, tension rose amongst the elected Democrats on whether to support incremental reform (like access to banks or removal of cannabis from the list of Schedule 1 drugs) or comprehensive legalization with provisions to address social inequities stemming from the legacy of the War on Drugs.  And so 2021 came to an end, and the cannabis industry saw yet another year of failed meaningful change on the federal level.
Continue Reading Federal Cannabis Reform – Is 2022 the Year?

Although Congress failed to pass federal legislation legalizing cannabis in 2021, the push to end the federal prohibition of the ever-growing industry continues to gain steam.  While Republican lawmakers have traditionally opposed decriminalization, more are beginning to support or even introduce new cannabis legislation.[1]  On top of that, recent polls indicate that an estimated 68% of Americans now support legalization[2] with many consumers now viewing cannabis as less dangerous than alcohol.[3]  In addition, the industry’s total addressable market has been forecasted to grow to $84B by 2026.[4]

Continue Reading Cannabis Legislation Year-in-Review

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?

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

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

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