Here’s your marijuana news recap for May 2020.
COVID-19 continues to compromise public health and the global supply chain including cannabis market legalization efforts and commercial operations. Despite the global pandemic, new cannabis regulations and studies are pushing the industry forward, albeit, at a slower pace than before.
Cannabis Banking Bill Included in Coronavirus Stimulus Bill
On the latest coronavirus relief bill, lawmakers in the House added the SAFE Banking Act. which would allow cannabis companies to work in banks. The bill is facing an uphill battle in the Senate. Mike Crapo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, stated he’s open to passing the bill if potency disclosures and limits are added.
Louisiana Senate Approves Medical Cannabis Expansion
The Louisiana Senate approved a bill allowing any medical condition to be treated with medical cannabis as long as it’s approved by a physician. The bill also includes nine new eligible medical conditions for treatment. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an expansion bill in 2016, 2018, and is expected to pass the new expansion bill, as well.
Largest City in Maine Approves Recreational Cannabis Use
Portland, Main has approved plans to institute a recreational cannabis market in Portland. The city will only give out 20 retail licenses with a preference for residents who have lived in the state for at least five years. Licenses will also favor applicants that meet the following requirements:
- Majority-owned by an economically disadvantaged applicant
- Own the retail location or have a longstanding lease on the property
- Well funded with at least $150,000 in liquid assets
- Medical cannabis caregivers
- Experience in running a regulated business
Florida Supreme Court Considers New Marijuana Rules
Florida’s Supreme Court heard arguments via teleconference on the legality of both vertical integration in the state and an adult-use initiative. Tampa-based Florigrown argues the vertical integration requirement violates the state constitution. If the requirement is overturned, companies could apply for individual licenses over managing the plant from seed to sale.
For the other case, Make It Legal Florida has focused on setting up a recreational ballot proposal for the 2022 ballot. Attorneys for the state argue that marijuana is illegal under federal law. One Justice, however, pushed back by stating that medical marijuana is federally illegal, too, but medical dispensaries are still open in the state. The Supreme Court is expected to make its decisions later this year.
Minnesota Lawmakers Introduce Legalization Bill
In Minnesota, lawmakers introduced a bill that would legalize adult-use. Under the bill, adults would be able to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 10 pounds at home. Adults would also be able to grow up to eight cannabis plants. Only four plants can be flowering. Multiple social equity provisions are also listed in the bill.
On a similar note, the Red Lake Nation citizens, an Ojibwe American Indian tribe in Minnesota, approved a medical cannabis program with an overwhelming 80 percent approval count. The program would allow the use of medical cannabis flower, unlike Minnesota’s current medical laws, and will have a lengthier list of eligible medical conditions compared to the state’s.
First Cannabis Study Focuses on Neonatal Care
Cannabis is widely touted as a saving grace for many medical conditions and symptoms including ones related to pregnancy, but the effects of cannabis use while pregnant remain a mystery. A new study by the NHS Foundation Trust of Guy and St. Thomas in London is studying a drug that could help newborns with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE).
HIE is the result of a lack of oxygen and blood to the baby’s brain. The study is being performed on Oscar Parodi, a baby born on March 11 during an emergency cesarean after being three days overdue. A single dose of the cannabinoid-based drug was administered less than 12 hours after birth. Success in the study could pave the way for further neonatal care.
Study Says Marijuana Use Does Not Increase Workplace Injuries
A study titled Systematic Review of Cannabis Use and Risk of Occupational Injury concluded that cannabis users weren’t more likely to suffer more from workplace accidents compared to non-users. A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia found that previous studies were poorly designed and failed to account for confounding variables such as alcohol use.
The study comes at the right moment as states are considering reforming their workplace cannabis testing policies. Maine and Nevada have been at the forefront of tackling workplace discrimination issues by preventing employers from refusing to hire an employee due to failing a cannabis pre-employment test.
Massachusetts Cannabis Shops Reopen
Cannabis shops are now in Massachusetts opened after taking a step back due to COVID-19 concerns. Under the reopening plan, recreational pot stores are allowed to take phone and online orders and offer curbside pickup. There’s no clear answer on when pot shops will fully open, but phase one of the reopening plan is expected to last until June 8.
West Virginia Physicians Are Registering To Prescribe Cannabis
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is now accepting physician registrations. Physicians must apply and undergo a four-hour online education course. Despite this momentous step, West Virginia will have to wait a little while longer until products are available in dispensaries.
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