On March 10, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, the Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) introduced the Seeding Opportunity Initiative (“SOI”).[1] This regulation would provide key opportunities for farmers, entrepreneurs and individuals that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. Notably, the proposed regulation would give individuals with previous cannabis convictions and their family members, subject to certain limitations, the first opportunity to apply for a conditional adult-use cannabis licenses.
Continue Reading New York Regulators to Jumpstart NY’s Cannabis Industry by Giving Priority to Small Businesses and Individuals with Prior Cannabis Convictions

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

In a win for much of the booming hemp products industry, on October 6, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB-45 into law.  AB-45 is comprehensive legislation that regulates and legitimizes many industrial hemp products. The law excludes from the list of permissible products inhalable hemp products. The law takes effect immediately and supersedes the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) 2018 “FAQ” guidance on hemp-derived CBD in food, beverages, dietary supplements, and pet food. The new law allows for the inclusion of hemp and cannabinoids (e.g., CBD), extracts, or derivatives of hemp in food and beverages, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and pet food.
Continue Reading AB-45: California Finally Welcomes Hemp Products To The Marketplace

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?