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Cannabis Developments Keep Coming

News from the legal marijuana business world

Canada. After 95 years of prohibiting the sale and use of cannabis, Canada’s Senate and House of Commons have approved legalizing recreational dried cannabis sales to begin in mid-October 2018. Regulations involving edibles and infused products should follow next year.

Adults will be able to possess up to 30 grams (one ounce) of dried cannabis in public. Some provinces will permit consumption by 18 year olds (the federal age), and others 19 years of age. Guidelines on the sale, packaging, branding, health warnings and the like will be established by Canada’s federal government, but the provinces will have the power to set other limits, such as where cannabis can be consumed.

United States. In June 2018, U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a states’ rights bill that would permit states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and federally recognized tribes to determine their own policies and procedures regulating cannabis, without interference from the federal government.

Aptly named the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act,” the bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act so that a person acting in compliance with his/her local law on cannabis would not be violating federal law. In addition:

  • Industrial hemp would be excluded from the definition of “controlled substances.”

  • The Act would strengthen the cannabis industry’s ability to obtain and maintain banking relationships by excluding compliant transactions from prohibitions on trafficking and unlawful transactions.

  • Cannabis businesses would be taxed as other businesses are taxed and permitted to claim typical business deductions.

  • States would be prohibited from permitting the distribution of cannabis to persons under age 21 except for medical purposes.

Sen. Warren stated in her sponsor statement that “the federal government needs to get out of the business of outlawing marijuana.” Sen. Gardner remarked that this “bipartisan common-sense bill ensures the federal government will respect the will of the voters ― whether that is legalization or prohibition ― and not interfere in any state’s legal marijuana industry.” Three other major marijuana bills are pending on Capitol Hill.

In October 2018, California Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher said that he has been holding talks with President Trump and his cabinet concerning federal marijuana reform, focusing on medical marijuana use. Rep. Rohrabacher stated that the Trump administration has made a “solid commitment” to reforming federal laws as early as spring 2019, with formal talks beginning after the November mid-term elections. This development is indicative of the wave of pro-marijuana initiatives across the U.S.

Arizona. On May 23, 2018, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that public college students with valid patient identification cards cannot be criminally prosecuted for possessing marijuana on campus. It is still illegal to possess cannabis on campus if the possessor does not have the state-issued patient card. State of Arizona v. Andre Lee Juwaun Maestas, No. CR-17-0193-PR, filed May 23, 2018.

If you have questions concerning this development, please contact marijuana business attorney Janet Jackim at 480-425-2616 or by email.