California Cannabis fight with national consequences

Cannabis Fight With National Consequences, Goodbye DEA

Happy Mueller Day!! If we can pull you away from the national headlines for a minute, here are some interesting cannabis news stories this March:

1. California: A cannabis fight with national consequences

When California legalized recreational use, it allowed local jurisdictions to opt-out of the statewide legalization mandate. Local governments jumped at this chance and today roughly half of Californians live in neighborhoods where recreational use is prohibited.  Ouch!!  

To service customers in off-limits towns, California authorized statewide home delivery—even to those communities which rejected legalization. 

Beverly Hills and 24 other jurisdictions objected and sued to nullify the home delivery rule. 

See NBC News article here. This issue is common to many States, including New York, which has, and will, consider legal recreational use in the face of vigorous push-back from localities. Stay tuned!   

2. For CBD, Goodbye DEA but Hello FDA

Even as the 2018 Farm Bill induces the DEA to pull back from drug law enforcement against the CBD industry, the Food and Drug Administration has stepped into the regulation void—as it should. 

CBD products are ubiquitous and are being hawked and pitched as a new miracle elixir online, in convenience stores, at trade shows and conferences, and soon in national pharmacy chain stores such as CVS and Walgreens. 

Enter the FDA

On April 2, 2019, outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb reported that warning letters were issued to three CBD companies because of unsubstantiated, unfounded, and egregious claims that their products’ limited, treated or even cured cancer, neurodegenerative conditions, autoimmune diseases, opioid use disorder, etc. 

But what of CBD producers who make less fantastical claims? On that point Commissioner Gottlieb advised that discretion would be used, stating before a US Senate appropriations subcommittee at the end of March:

“….there are products on the market right now that, given our enforcement priorities and our limited resources, we haven’t taken action against.  That’s not an invitation for people to continue marketing these products—we’re concerned about it—but we heard Congress loud and clear here.” 

3. Nevada and the New Reality

Nevada has been sued concerning its process of awarding cannabis licenses, with the plaintiffs claiming that Nevada…

“…unconstitutionally picked winners and losers from 462 applicants for 61 new dispensary, cultivation, laboratory and production licenses…” 

Behold the new reality – where winners win, and losers sue. See the Time Magazine article here

4. Israel Pulls Back

Israel took a surprising step back from the cannabis threshold in its parliamentary elections on April 9. Zehut, a fringe right-wing party with an explicit pro-pot agenda soared in pre-election polls but unexpectedly crashed at the ballot box. 

Zehut’s agenda involved a host of radical issues which could have turned off voters, and some of the mainstream Israeli parties advanced pro-cannabis positions to steal Zehut’s thunder. But the election results may have dimmed the chances of Israeli legalization of recreational use in the short term.       

Short-Takes-Corgi Mascot Cannabis News

Short takes  

  • US Attorney General, William Barr, asserted that for Federal cannabis law relief, the broader STATES Act (as opposed to the narrower SAFE Act) makes more sense for States where cannabis use has been legalized. See our US Congress post for further discussion of the differences between the two bills.
  • New Jersey officials estimate that if recreational use is legalized, 2mm sq. ft. of new cannabis cultivation space will be required in that State.  That means about 100 new cannabis cultivators and 35 additional growers for medical cannabis will be required. Did someone say “cultivation/grower jobs?”      
  • Tennessee rejected medical marijuana, while on the other hand, Tennessee issued 2600 growing licenses for CBD and industrial hemp for the Spring, 2019 growing season; a jump of 1,100% over the 2018 season. 
  • Celebrity takesHoward Dean, former Vermont Governor and US Presidential candidate, joined the board of directors of Tilray. Mike Tyson announced on Jimmy Kimmel that he signed a distribution deal with Planet 13 to sell his Tyson Ranch cannabis products in Nevada.
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