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Cannabis Legalization

Proposed Bill in Colorado to Protect Marijuana-User Employees

Jordan Webber

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Colorado Lawmakers Propose Law to Prevent Businesses from Firing Marijuana-Users

Two Colorado lawmakers had proposed to pass a law preventing businesses from firing employees who use cannabis outside of their work hours.

The HB20-1089, which was introduced by Democratic Rep. Jevon Melton of Aurora, prohibits employers “from terminating an employee for the employee’s lawful off-duty activities that are lawful under state law.

If passed, the bill will override a decision made by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015, which upheld the decision of the company Dish Network in firing its employee, Brandon Coats, after the latter failed a random drug test in 2010.

While Coat’s use of marijuana is considered legal under the state law, the Court ruled that the decision to fire Coat is valid as the state’s “lawful activity” statute is only limited to activities that are legal under both state and federal level. Since marijuana use remains to be illegal at the federal level, this prevents people from recognizing the practice as a lawful activity.

It was just a glaring gap that we have here in the statute, especially when we’re supposed to regulate marijuana like we are with alcohol,” commented Melton. “If someone’s able to drink while they’re at home and on their free time, as long as they’re not coming into work intoxicated, then they’re not penalized with their employment.”

Proposed Bill  – What’s in it?

Under the bill proposed by Melton, “lawful activity” will be defined as those that are legal under the state law. This would make the use of marijuana a lawful activity, thus preventing employers from firing workers that engage in the said activity.

Melton’s bill is currently supported by fellow House Democrat Rep. Jonathan Singer of Longmont, who claimed that terminating workers over their legal marijuana use negatively affects the poor and that the state should “wipe the slate clean” for those who use the drug.

In 2012, voters approved the ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use in Colorado. However, despite the amendment, employers can still fire workers who are to be caught using cannabis on or off their work hours.

“We’re really not creating a new law. This law has been on the books when it comes to alcohol and tobacco use; we’re just expanding,” Melton explained. “The way it’s written now, it’s broad enough to cover anything the legislature would legalize in the future. We didn’t want a future legislature to come back and revisit this when they legalize something else.”

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Cannabis Legalization

Hobo Cannabis Wants Delivery Service to be Legal in BC

Carissa Stevens

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Cannabis store chain Hobo Cannabis is urging legislators to make delivery service legal in British Columbia, said CBC. This call is a step toward stopping illegal dealing in the province. The licensed dispensary, along with other certified vendors, argued that they are “at a disadvantage against unlicensed competitors who deliver weed.” The report emphasized that BC does not have cannabis laws allowing the delivery of cannabis products.

This issue has been a concern for many licensed vendors for a long time, said Harrison Stoker, vice president of Donnelly Group, the company that owns Hobo Cannabis. However, the illicit delivery of cannabis products has become more rampant over the past few months because of the virus pandemic, as customers choose to get their products delivered to protect themselves from the public health risk.

According to Stoker, “The illicit market [in BC] is very intelligent, very strategic and very mature in their business models.” He also said that the pandemic was a prime time for the illegitimate industry. Stoker asserts that legalizing delivery services can help them compete with such illegal sellers. It could also help fight the black market.

The CBC report noted that consumers can have their products legally delivered through mail by going through the government-operated BC Cannabis Store. However, packages take a few days before they arrive, as opposed to delivery options that could be same-day.

The article also cited Weedmaps, a cannabis-focused website, which offers a list of delivery services in the Lower Mainland. It even guarantees quick delivery, usually within one hour. Stoker argues that modern times call for a more updated approach as “people expect these kinds of modern retail features.”

By allowing licensed stores to deliver, customers do not have to opt for black market products. Instead, they can choose among authorized products just like what happens in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, where delivery is legal.

Meanwhile, the province’s Ministry of Public Safety said that it is now evaluating the possibility of legalizing deliveries. It has also been taking steps to crack down on the illicit industry, despite facing significant challenges because many of them operate online. The Ministry is in charge of the legal cannabis program in the province.

Mark Haden from the UBC School of Population and Public Health with experience in writing about drug regulation said that legalizing deliveries is a great short-term move. The better action in the long-run is to “bring the illegal sector into line with the law.”

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Louisiana to Provide Wider Access to MMJ Via New Law

Stacey Wellington

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mmj expansion bill

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards officially signed the expansion of the state’s therapeutic cannabis program into law last week. Edwards announced his action Monday evening, June 15, 2020. Under this, the in-state medical marijuana program will recognize an array of maladies and conditions beyond the initial set list approved by the legislature.

Slated to take effect by August 1, 2020, the new law would reportedly allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana-based treatment for any condition they see fit. Likewise, this would also take away the previous restrictions on cases which doctors can recommend this treatment.

The MMJ expansion bill was introduced and sponsored by Representative Larry Bagley. According to Marijuana Moment, Bagley initially only included traumatic brain injuries, as well as concussions, as part of the list. The bill, however, was amended to include what a doctor “considers debilitating to an individual patient.”

Moreover, ABC News reports that doctors will no longer have to sign up and register for a license to authorize or recommend cannabis treatment from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.

Prior to this amendment, only licensed cannabis specialists are allowed to provide cannabis-based recommendations to their patients based on the 16 serious health conditions found under the legislature-approved list, reports Fox 8.

Despite these changes, Fox 8 states that physicians are still required to uphold the state reporting requirements that seek to support the Louisiana State University (LSU) and Southern University in its respective research efforts. Both universities are the only two institutions that are recognized and authorized to grow cannabis within the state.

mmj bill

Apart from signing the bill into law, Governor Edwards also signed another legislation that protects banks and credit unions catering to cannabis businesses from being penalized by state regulators, reports Marijuana Moment.

The Louisiana governor has also signed another bill that extends legal protection to medical professionals and doctors, as well as medical facilities, who opt for a medical marijuana-based treatment program and who have respective cannabis patients under their care and jurisdiction, notes Marijuana Moment.

The approval and signing of the aforementioned bills come after lawmakers brought the cannabis bills to Edwards’ office earlier this June. A hemp and CBD regulation proposal has yet to be approved or acted upon accordingly by the state governor.

In an interview with Fox 8, war veteran and medical cannabis user Gary Hess said that the recent legislation in Louisiana may serve as a model for nationwide implementation. However, Hess believes that this is only possible if stakeholders truly express vigilance and care for their patients, and if the state addresses the stigma surrounding the plant.

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Cannabis Legalization

IL Delays Issuing of Licenses for Minority Business Owners

Stacey Wellington

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Illinois has moved its schedule for giving cannabis licenses to minorities, said Block Club Chicago. Aspiring business owners who are entrepreneurs were meant to receive their licenses by the start of May but may now have to wait for a few months. At the very least, applicants can expect their licenses over the next months.

The state government announced that it will be giving 75 dispensary licenses, which were supposed to be given on May 1. However, governor JB Pritzker approved an executive order toward the end of April delaying the issuing of such permits to successful applicants. The indefinite suspension of this decision is due to the virus pandemic, as well as persistent glitches in the system used to process applications.

All 75 permits, which were intended for minority applicants, were scheduled for issuance on May 1, at the same time. Because of the executive order, some could be given theirs next month. Meanwhile, others could wait until August this year before they can be awarded their authorizations.

In explaining the need for the delay, former state senator and head of the state’s cannabis program Toi Hutchinson, said that it is needed in order to guarantee that there will be no error in the issuance of permits. It is also designed to avoid potential lawsuits from unsuccessful applicants.

Hutchinson recognized the effects of this order to those anticipating their licenses. He expressed his concern to individuals waiting for the decision, which could be having a hard time weathering the situation.

As mentioned, the 75 permits were intended to boost the number of minority-owned businesses. Currently, the state’s cannabis industry is dominated by white men and this measure sought to prioritize “social equity applicants.”

Block Club Chicago explained that interested parties can qualify as social equity applicants by ensuring that “at least 51% of an ownership group applying for a state license [lives] in an area most impacted by the war on drugs.” The same percentage should also have “been arrested or had a family member arrested for a cannabis-related offense.” The company should have over 10 full-time employees, with at least 51% of them qualifying for social equity status.

The delay also gave way to more issues regarding scoring. Applicants need to get a specific number of points to be considered successful. Those who get the same number of points are under tie-breaking rules, which expired on June 6. Because of the delay, it is unclear whether the permits will still be granted to those who won through the tie-breaking rules.

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