Congressman Joyce Leads Bipartisan Effort to Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Cannabis to Veterans

Joins Rep. Lee, Senator Schatz in introducing Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act of 2021

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) joined his fellow Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) in introducing the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act of 2021. Senator Brian Schatz (HI) has introduced the bill in the Senate.

This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would allow doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to discuss, recommend and prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in states that have established medical marijuana programs. Currently, VA doctors are prohibited from doing so as the federal government classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance. According to a 2017 American Legion survey more than 90% of veteran households support marijuana research and 82% want to see medical cannabis designated as a federally legal treatment option.

“There is a growing body of evidence about the beneficial uses of medical cannabis as treatment for PTSD and chronic pain, two terrible conditions that plague many of our veterans,” said Joyce. “If a state has made it legal, like Ohio has, the federal government should not be preventing a VA doctor from recommending medical cannabis if they believe that treatment is right for their patient. As the son of a World War II veteran who was wounded on the battlefield, I’ve seen firsthand the many challenges our nation’s heroes face when they return home. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important bill and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure we are providing our veterans with the care they need to overcome the wounds of war.”

The legislation would also create a temporary, five-year safe harbor protection for veterans who use medical marijuana and their doctors. Additionally, the bill would direct the VA to research the effects of medical marijuana on veterans in pain, as well as the relationship between medical marijuana programs and a potential reduction in opioid abuse among veterans.

In a recent study, researchers found that those who suffer from PTSD who used cannabis saw greater reductions in their PTSD symptoms and were 2.57 times more likely to recover from PTSD during the study than those who were not using cannabis. Furthermore, a 2016 study at the Minnesota Department of Health found that 58% of patients on other pain medications were able to reduce their use of those medications when they started taking medical cannabis. Of the patients taking opioid medications, more than 62% were able to reduce or eliminate opioid usage after 6 months.

According to the VA, nearly 20% of the 2.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will experience either PTSD or depression while more than 50% of older veterans receiving care at the VA are living with some form of chronic pain. Often times, people with PTSD experience depression, panic attacks, severe anxiety, or a substance use problem, putting them at a higher risk for suicide. Tragically, the VA’s most recent annual report shows that nearly 18 veterans take their own life every day.

Organizations that support this legislation include: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), VoteVets, Minority Veterans of America, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Veterans Cannabis Project, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), NORML, National Cannabis Roundtable, U.S. Pain Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Veteran’s Initiative 22, Arizona Dispensary Association, California Cannabis Industry Association, and Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association.

Governor Phil Scott Announces Appointments To Vermont Cannabis Control Board

VERMONT: Governor Phil Scott announced today that he has appointed James Pepper of Montpelier, Julie Hulburd of Colchester and Kyle Harris of Montpelier to the Cannabis Control Board (CCB).

“The Board will play a critical role in ensuring public safety, equity and fairness while implementing this new market,” said Governor Phil Scott. “James, Julie and Kyle bring diverse and relevant experience to the CCB and I’m confident they will hit the ground running when they get to work in the coming days.”

Stopthedrugwar.orgThe CCB was created by Act 164 of 2020 for the purpose of safely, equitably and effectively implementing and administering the laws and rules regulating adult-use cannabis in Vermont. It is responsible for establishing, administering and regulating a cannabis regulatory system for commercial cannabis cultivators, wholesalers, product manufacturers, retailers and testing laboratories.

The CCB will also take over responsibility for the regulation of medical cannabis dispensaries and the administration of the medical cannabis registry, currently administered by the Vermont Department of Public Safety.

About the appointees:

James Pepper, Chair

James Pepper currently serves as a deputy state’s attorney for the Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs. In this role, Pepper has worked on several criminal justice reform initiatives, including bail reform, expungement eligibility, Justice Reinvestment, use of force standards for law enforcement officers, and the expansion of juvenile jurisdiction.

Pepper also serves on the Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel, the CHINS Reform Advisory Panel, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Panel, the Act 148 Working Group, and the Sentencing Commission. Prior to joining the Department, Pepper worked for former Governor Peter Shumlin as director of intergovernmental affairs and senior policy advisor, where he worked on relevant cannabis issues.

Pepper received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University and his J.D. from Vermont Law School. He and his wife Aly live in Montpelier with their identical twin boys, Beau and Wesley.

Julie Hulburd

Julie Hulburd currently serves as the human resources director at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation and has over twenty years of Human Resources experience, including 12 years in municipal government. In her last municipal government role, Julie worked closely with leadership on the city’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

Hulburd was appointed to the State Ethics Commission in 2018 and has served as its chair since 2019. She has also served as a member of her local parks and recreation advisory board, a justice of the peace and on the select board.

Hulburd has a bachelor’s degree from Northern Vermont University-Johnson. She also holds a Professional in Human Resources Certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and is a Certified Professional with the Society for Human Resources Management. She regularly volunteers for the Vermont Brain Injury Association’s Walk for Thought, at the local Night to Shine event and the Miss Vermont Scholarship Organization.

Kyle Harris

Kyle Harris has served as an agriculture development specialist at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) since 2019. In this role, he has focused on emerging issues and economic development. His work has focused on dairy innovation, maple initiatives and hemp business development. He has worked closely with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development as a liaison between agencies to facilitate policy and economic discussion throughout Vermont’s agriculture portfolio. Most recently, he aided in development of Vermont’s Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030.

Previous to his role with VAAFM, Harris served as the associate counsel for environmental affairs at the Corn Refiners Association in Washington, DC, where his work focused on improving the environmental footprint at both ends of the supply chain, from grower relations to growth in plant-based products and 21st century uses for agricultural feedstocks

Harris has a bachelor’s degree in history from the College of Charleston, and a J.D. & Master of Environmental Law & Policy from Vermont Law School. He has a license to practice law in Maryland. He lives in Montpelier with his wife Cate.

WSLCB To Cannabis Retailers: Things to Know Before 4-20 Activities

WASHINGTON: 

Greetings Retail Cannabis Partners,

As 4-20-21 is rapidly approaching, we wanted to send you a risk management reminder of activities we have seen in the past that violate state law. These activities could lead to violations before or during your 420 events:

Some things to avoid:

Any outdoor signs related to your 420 event that are visible outside of the “adult only” enclosed area

  • Any advertising which might be especially appealing to minors Employing or using mascots, costumed characters, or sign spinners outside of your premises
  • Having any giveaways – including free food or beverages
  • Selling unauthorized merchandise other than what is allowed by law
  • Using coupons or “bring-this-to-get-that” type promotions
  • Providing alcohol to customers (or staff)
  • Allowing consumption of cannabis in the licensed premises or parking lot, sidewalk, etc;
  • Hosting or promoting “smoke friendly” events. The opening or consumption of cannabis is only allowed in private areas, outside of public view. If your event is advertised, or charges a fee to attend, or is held in a public place, it is likely not a private

The LCB’s mission is to protect public safety. You can help us to help you be successful by avoiding violations which could lead to fines or suspension of your retail cannabis license.  If you have any questions about cannabis rules, or want to run ideas for advertising or promotions by us, please do not hesitate to call your local Enforcement Officer before you take action.

Please visit our website at LCB.WA.GOV  for contact information and for more details on rules.

NEW YORK: Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Legalizing Adult-Use Cannabis

Legislation (S.854-A/A.1248-A) Establishes the Office of Cannabis Management; Expands New York’s Existing Medical Marijuana Program; Establishes a Licensing System; and Creates a Social and Economic Equity Program Encouraging Individuals Disproportionately Impacted by Cannabis Enforcement to Participate in Industry

Tax Collection Projected to Reach $350 Million Annually and Potentially Create 30,000 to 60,000 Jobs

NEW YORK:  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.854-A/A.1248-A) legalizing adult-use cannabis, fulfilling a key component of his 2021 State of the State agenda. The bill signing comes after the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced this past Sunday, March 28, that an agreement had been reached on the legislation. The bill establishes the Office of Cannabis Management to implement a comprehensive regulatory framework that covers medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp. The bill also expands New York State’s existing medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp programs. The legislation provides licensing for marijuana producers, distributors, retailers, and other actors in the cannabis market, and creates a social and economic equity program to assist individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement that want to participate in the industry.

The development of an adult-use cannabis industry in New York State under this legislation has the potential to create significant economic opportunities for New Yorkers and the State. Tax collections from the adult-use cannabis program are projected to reach $350 million annually. Additionally, there is the potential for this new industry to create 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs across the State.

“This is a historic day in New York – one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits.” Governor Cuomo said. “This was one of my top priorities in this year’s State of the State agenda and I’m proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis. I thank both the Leader and the Speaker, and the tireless advocacy of so many for helping make today’s historic day possible.”

“Today, New York stepped up and took transformative action to end the prohibition of adult-use marijuana,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “This legislation is a momentous first step in addressing the racial disparities caused by the war on drugs that has plagued our state for too long. This effort was years in the making and we have finally achieved what many thought was impossible, a bill that legalizes marijuana while standing up for social equity, enhancing education and protecting public safety. I applaud Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes for their commitment and leadership on this issue.”

“Passage of this bill will mean not just legalizing marijuana, but also investing in education and our communities, and it brings to an end decades of disproportionately targeting people of color under state and federal drug laws,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “I thank Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes for her years of advocacy and efforts to make this bill a reality. My colleagues and I knew it was important to do this the right way – in a way that would include those targeted and frequently excluded from the process. Now, this legal industry will create jobs across our state, including for those who have had their lives upended by years of unjust drug laws.”

“I’m extremely humbled, proud and honored to have passed the historic Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act with my partners in government Senator Liz Krueger and Governor Cuomo. This social justice initiative will provide equity to positively transform disenfranchised communities of color for the better,” said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “I believe this bill can serve as a blue print for future states seeking inclusive cannabis legalization. I would be remiss not to thank all of my family, colleagues, advocates and supporters over 8 long years.”

The Governor has included legalizing adult-use cannabis in his last three budget proposals.

The New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act contains the following provisions:

Establish the Office of Cannabis Management
The Office of Cannabis Management will be charged with enforcing a comprehensive regulatory framework governing medical, adult-use cannabinoid hemp. It will be governed by a five-member board, with three members appointed by the Governor and one appointment by each house. OCM will be an independent office operating as part of the New York State Liquor Authority.

Medical Cannabis
The legislation will allow people with a larger list of medical conditions to access medical marijuana, increase the number of caregivers allowed per patient, and permit home cultivation of medical cannabis for patients.

Adult-Use Cannabis
The legislation will create a two-tier licensing structure that will allow for a large range of producers by separating those growers and processors from also owning retail stores. The legislation creates licenses for producers and distributors, among other entities, and the legislation will implement strict quality control, public health and consumer protections. A social and economic equity program will facilitate individuals disproportionally impacted by cannabis enforcement, including creating a goal of 50% of licenses to go to a minority or woman owned business enterprise, or distressed farmers or service-disabled veterans to encourage participation in the industry.

The Bill implements a new cannabis tax structure that will replace a weight-based tax with a tax per mg of THC at the distributor level with different rates depending on final product type. The wholesale excise tax will be moved to the retail level with a 9 percent state excise tax. The local excise tax rate will be 4 percent of the retail price. Counties will receive 25% of the local retail tax revenue and 75 percent will go to the municipality.

Cannabinoid Hemp
The legislation permits the sale of hemp flower in the cannabinoid hemp program, and allows for smokeable forms only when adult use retail stores are operational.

Adult-Use Cannabis Tax Revenue
All cannabis taxes will be deposited in the New York state cannabis revenue fund. Revenue covers reasonable costs to administer the program and implement the law. The remaining funding will be split three ways:

  • 40 Percent to Education
  • 40 Percent to Community Grants Reinvestment Fund
  • 20 Percent to Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund

Municipal Opt-Out
Cities, towns, and villages may opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses by passing a local law by December 31, 2021 or nine months after the effective date of the legislation. They cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization.

Traffic Safety
The New York State Department of Health will work with institutions of higher education to conduct a controlled research study designed to evaluate methodologies and technologies for the detection of cannabis-impaired driving. After completion of the research study, DOH may create and implement rules and regulations to approve and certify a test for the presence of cannabis in drivers.

The legislation includes additional funding for drug recognition experts and law enforcement to ensure safe roadways.

The use of cannabis by drivers will remain prohibited and will carry the same penalties as it does currently.

Personal Possession and Home Cultivation
The following conditions apply to growing cannabis at home and personal possession of cannabis outside the home:

  • Personal possession outside of the home: up to 3 ounces cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • Home possession: amends limits of what is permitted in the home, which must be kept in a secure location away from children
  • Home grow: permitted under the bill subject to possession limits in 18 months after first adult-use sales begin for adult recreational use and subject to regulations of the Medical Program being promulgated no sooner than 6 months:
    • 3 mature plants and 3 immature plants for adults over 21
      • 6 mature plants and 6 immature plants maximum per household

Criminal Justice and Record Expungement
The cannabis penalty framework will be restructured to avoid the criminalization seen in prohibition. Reduced penalties will be implemented for possession and sale.

  • Creates automatic expungement or resentencing for anyone with a previous marijuana conviction that would now be legal under the law and provides necessary funding
  • Adds cannabis to the clean indoor air act which establishes a baseline on where cannabis can be smoked or vaped
  • Municipalities and local governments are permitted to make laws that are more restrictive than the CIAA. Contains various provisions to ensure that cannabis is treated as a lawful substance and to prevent discriminatory enforcement

Protections for the Use of Cannabis and Workplace Safety
Unlawful discrimination will be prohibited and workplace safety protections will be implemented.

Public Health and Education Campaign
OCM will establish a robust public health and education campaign and work with neighboring states and associations to coordinate actions and policies to protect regional health and safety.

This legislation builds on years of work to understand and decriminalize cannabis for adult use. In 2018, the Department of Health, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, conducted a multi-agency study, which concluded that the positive impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis far outweighed the negatives. It also found that decades of cannabis prohibition have failed to achieve public health and safety goals and have led to unjust arrests and convictions particularly in communities of color.

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Canadian Border Security Agency Sets New Penalties For Crossing The Border With Cannabis

CANADA:  On October 17, 2018, the Cannabis Act came into force, introducing a strict framework for controlling cannabis within Canada. While cannabis was legalized, it does remain illegal to carry cannabis across the border without a valid permit or exemption. As part of Canada’s legalization plan, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the time committed to establishing a monetary penalty system for cannabis infractions at the border. The CBSA previously provided public notice of this intention in its 2019-2020 departmental plan.

For this reason, and as part of the enforcement measures supporting the Cannabis Act, effective March 29, 2021 at 12 a.m. EDT, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will begin issuing monetary penalties to travellers who fail to properly declare cannabis and cannabis products when crossing the border. This is another tool, besides criminal prosecution, to crack down on the unauthorized cross-border movement of cannabis in any form.

The CBSA’s Administrative Monetary Penalty regime sets out monetary penalties for cannabis-related contraventions of the Customs Act. The penalties will apply to travellers who:

  • provide information to an officer that is not true, accurate, and complete; or
  • fail to report imported goods containing cannabis.

A border services officer will detain the undeclared cannabis or cannabis products with no terms of release and serve the traveller with a written Notice of Penalty Assessment that states the contravention and a penalty ranging from $200 to $2,000. The amount of the penalty will be based on:

  • type of contravention (undeclared cannabis, inaccurate information);
  • severity (undeclared cannabis is concealed, quantity of undeclared cannabis); and,
  • history of non-compliance (having a penalty issued in the past and/or a past seizure record).

Depending on the seriousness and nature of the offence, the CBSA may pursue criminal prosecution in addition to the monetary penalty. If convicted, travellers may face imprisonment, a court fine, or both.

Quick facts

  • Under the Cannabis Act, it remains illegal to import into Canada, or export from Canada, cannabis and cannabis products (including CBD products derived from cannabis or hemp) without a valid permit or exemption issued by the Government of Canada.
  • The Government of Canada is working to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system resulting from cannabis-related offences, while still deterring illegal activities.
  • Travellers who disagree with the monetary penalty will have 90 days to request a ministerial review of the officer’s decision.
  • The CBSA also reminds Canadians that although the possession of cannabis is legal in some U.S. states, it remains illegal under U.S. federal laws. Do not attempt to cross the Canada-U.S. border with any amount of cannabis in any form, even if you are travelling to a U.S. state that has legalized possession of cannabis.

WSLCB Reminds Licensees: Branded Or Unbranded Merchandise And Conditional Sales Prohibited

Enforcement and Education Bulletin No 21-01

 

 

To:                  Cannabis Industry Members

From:             Matt McCallum, Enforcement Advertising Coordinator

Subject:         Prohibited: branded or unbranded merchandise and conditional sales

As the cannabis industry continues to evolve and progress, the advertising produced and sold by cannabis licensees is becoming more and more creative. Although the LCB supports the creativity and promotion of cannabis businesses, it is important to remember that there are restrictions on what cannabis licensees can sell, and how it can be sold.

Please keep in mind that the distribution of branded or unbranded promotional items is prohibited under WAC 314-55-155(4), and conditional sales are prohibited under WAC 314-55-017.

What does this mean for licensees?

This means that a cannabis licensee in the state of Washington cannot brand, package with, or sell non-cannabis, or non-cannabis paraphernalia items, using their license. This includes but is not limited to t-shirts, stickers, drinking glasses, lanyards, and general swag items.

In addition, requiring the purchase of a non-cannabis item, such as paraphernalia or other non-cannabis products in order for the purchaser to obtain cannabis, is prohibited. This includes but is not limited to pipes, bongs, rolling papers, lighters, and branded merchandise.

Please note that licensees may sell paraphernalia together with cannabis either as separate items or in branded packaging, but the purchase of cannabis cannot be contingent upon the requirement to purchase the paraphernalia item. This means if a paraphernalia item is sold with or packaged with cannabis, the cannabis must also be available for sale separately and the cannabis cannot be available for a lesser amount when sold with the paraphernalia.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, RCW 69.50.585, allows cannabis producers and processors to provide retailers and their employees with branded promotional items of nominal value. These items can only have the advertising matter of the producer or processor providing the items.  The items may not be forwarded on to the retail customers, through purchase or giveaway.

If you have any questions, please contact your compliance consultant or officer. Thanks you. for your review.

Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program Mandatory Product Recall – 3/16/21

OHIO:  The Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) is issuing a mandatory product recall on plant material sold to dispensaries by processor, GTI Ohio, LLC. This recall is being initiated by the MMCP because the product did not receive the full battery of required testing prior to being sold at dispensaries. The recalled products were not tested for heavy metals and mycotoxins. The MMCP is investigating this matter and will issue an executive summary at the conclusion of the investigation.

AFFECTED PRODUCTS:
Product Name:
  • “& Shine” Select Grind Lightly Ground Trim – Strain Name Koala Mints
  • “& Shine” Select Grind Lightly Ground Trim – Strain Name Blueberry Cheesecake
  • “& Shine” Select Grind Lightly Ground Trim – Strain Name Wedding Cake
Purchase Dates: February 15, 2021 – Present
Products Purchased from: RISE Dispensary (Cleveland), RISE Dispensary (Lakewood), RISE Dispensary (Lorain), and RISE Dispensary (Toledo)
Processor Name: GTI Ohio LLC
Product ID:
  • M00000144218: Tier 1 Vap-Hybrid-13.6-0-14.15
  • M00000145710: Tier 1 Vap-Hybrid-21.1-0-14.15
  • M00000145715: Tier 1 Vap-Hybrid-14.5-0-14.15
  • M00000146514: Tier 1 Vap-Hybrid-21.6-0-14.15
No reports of adverse reactions for this product have been reported to the MMCP at this time.
Patients who have purchased the recalled product should stop using it. All unused product should be returned to the dispensary where purchased. Returned products will not count toward a patient’s 90-day possession limit. For more information on returns, please contact the dispensary where the product was purchased.
Anyone who thinks that they may be experiencing serious or life-threatening issues should seek immediate medical attention. Patients are reminded that any adverse reactions should be reported to the MMCP toll-free helpline (1-833-464-6627).

First Members Appointed to Nevada Cannabis Advisory Commission

NEVADA: Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced the appointment of eight members to the Cannabis Advisory Commission (CAC). Established through AB 533, the 12-person commission studies cannabis-related issues and makes recommendations to the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB).

Appointees:

  • Benjamin Chew, District Manager, DB Labs
  • James Hammer, General Manager, Wallflower Cannabis House
  • A’Esha Goins, Founder, Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Community (CEIC) Nevada
  • Jillian Nelson, Vice President of Operations, Evergreen Organix
  • Michael Nikhman, Co-Owner, Nevada Group Wellness
  • Kema Ogden, Co-Owner, Top Notch The Health Center
  • Dr. Jennifer Pearson, Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Daniel Stewart, Attorney, Hutchison & Steffen

The CAC consists of 12 members, eight of which are appointed by the governor. Members are appointed on the merit of their knowledge, skill, and experience either within or outside of the cannabis industry. Combined, appointees represent experts in the cannabis cultivation, retail, laboratory science, and manufacturing spaces, and experts in the law, medical and public health fields alongside advocates of the medical use of cannabis and criminal justice reform.

In addition to the eight gubernatorial appointees, the CAC includes Nevada’s Attorney General, the Director of the Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Executive Director of the Department of Taxation (DoT), and the Executive Director of the CCB who serves as Chair of the CAC.

Appointees serve a two-year term and are eligible for reappointment.

New Additive Rules Take Effect April 1, 2021

New Rules Provide Opportunity for Limited Product Sell Down

Updated Compliance Information:

Labeling Example, Metrc Guide

OREGON:  The OLCC is providing additional information regarding the implementation of and compliance with new additive rules. The rules, enacted in December 2020, impact all OLCC marijuana licensees and industrial hemp certificate holders. The first of these rules takes effect April 1, 2021. A more detailed explanation of the requirements can be found in Compliance Bulletin CE2020-07 along with links to the rules.

These rules apply to “Inhalable Cannabinoid Products with Non-cannabis Additives” (“ICP”). Generally speaking, ICPs are cannabinoid products that are meant for human inhalation and have been combined with non-cannabis ingredients like non-cannabis terpenes or flavorings. The most common example is a vape cartridge with flavorings. See the definitions in 845-025-1015(44) and (64).

There are two important dates for licensees in these rules: April 1, 2021 and July 1, 2021:

  • On and after April 1, 2021, all ICPs manufactured or processed must comply with the new rule requirements.
  • On and after April 1, 2021, all ICPs (including those made before April 1, 2021) must be correctly categorized in Metrc and, in the case of items held by processors, have their ingredients properly recorded in Metrc. (See 845-025-3270 for the requirements regarding categorization and ingredient tracking.)

Licensees with these products in their inventory must make these changes by April 1, 2021. Licensees are able to create the requisite item category in Metrc; an upcoming system enhancement in Metrc will provide the functionality for entry of ingredient tracking by processors. See this Metrc guide for more information.

  • There is a limited “sell down” period for ICPs made before April 1, 2021. Processors may transfer ICPs made before April 1, 2021 that do not comply with the new rule requirements until June 30, 2021. As of July 1, 2021 licensees can neither transfer nor possess products that do not meet the new rule requirements. See Compliance Bulletin CE2020-07 for more detail.

There are required labeling changes:

  • All labels for ICPs created on and after April 1, 2021 must have labels that are compliant with the new rules (and meet the other applicable rule requirements);
  • The product identity must contain the words “non-cannabis additive”;
  • All ingredients in the product must be listed either on the label or an insert accompanying the label. The ingredient listing must also contain the words “non-cannabis additive.” An example of a new label can be found here and an example of an old label can be found here;
  • Licensees must submit “manufacturer documentation” that adheres to the requirements of 845-025-3265(1) and “Non-cannabis Additive Documentation” as part of their label submissions; and
  • Licensees may no longer utilize generic labels for ICPs created on and after April 1, 2021.

Questions related to the rules or labeling should be directed to marijuana.packaging@oregon.gov.

Questions related to Metrc should be directed to marijuana.cts@oregon.gov.

 

 

Yes, You Can Still Be Fired For Using Cannabis: Making Sense of Employment Discrimination Post-Legalization In Illinois

 

By Jaye R. Lindsay, Esq., Crossroad Legal

Like most well-intentioned laws, the sweeping legislation known as the Illinois cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA), passed in December 2019, included wide-ranging implications for employees and employers throughout the State. For one, the law effectively made it completely legal to consumer or possess cannabis for personal recreational use. But this left open the question of whether a person could be fired for testing positive for cannabis or cannabinoid compounds. Obviously, employers want to make sure they have a right to prohibit people from operating heavy equipment or showing up to work high. But how does an employer do that?

After all, unlike alcohol, THC remains in your system for days or even weeks. A person could test positive for THC weeks after use and at a time when there is no residual impact on functioning at all. Thus, it presents the challenge of balancing the need to allow employers to ensure a safe work environment and the right of the people to use a lawful substance that has many known benefits, including medicinal uses. Cannabis lawyers across the state remain divided on how to best advise clients on this issue. But it does appear, at least for the time being, that the Illinois General Assembly agrees people can be terminated for lawful use of cannabis. Here’s what you should know.

Conflicting Laws

There is now some conflict between two laws in Illinois. First, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the amendments contained in Public Act 101-0593, which allows an employer to revoke an offer of employment if it is discovered the applicant used cannabis prior to starting the job.

Compare this with newly passed amendments to CRTA, which made no changes to the existing language from the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act. Under that law, employers in some situations are restricted from discriminating against employees based on the use of lawful products. The term “lawful products,” carries some implications, but even the law acknowledges that where legal substances are consumed off the employer’s premises and not during work hours, discrimination is prohibited.

How the Conflict of Laws Creates Tension for Employers and Employees

As one can imagine, this all presents a big problem. After all, THC can show up in tests weeks after use and long after any possible effects would have worn off. This distinguishes cannabis from alcohol and many other substances that can only be detected during active intoxication. So, how should employers handle the situation. If they allow employees to test positive for THC, they could face serious liability if someone is hurt on the job. Imagine someone operating power tools or heavy machinery while intoxicated. But if the employer terminates the employee or passes up an applicant based on past use, then a discrimination claim may be made.

Key Provisions of CRTA Attempted to Address the Problem

Under the CRTA legislation, the law is clear about what it does not do:

  • An employer can still terminate employees for using or possessing cannabis on the job
  • Nothing in the law stops an employer from having a reasonable zero tolerance policy with respect to use and possession on the job
  • Nothing in the law prohibits an employer from disciplining or terminating employees for violating their policies
  • Nothing in the law forces employers to allow employees to work under the influence
  • The law does not create a specific right of action to sue employers for failing to comply. This simply means that a plaintiff would still need to prove all the typical elements of a claim for discrimination, without special consideration under this law.

However, the law also goes on to say that an employer can consider an employee impaired if they have a “good faith belief” that the employee is showing signs of “articulable symptoms while working” and which limit or diminish that employee’s work performance. The law provides specific examples, such as effects on:

  • Speech
  • Physical dexterity
  • Agility
  • Coordination
  • Demeanor
  • Irrational or unusual behavior
  • Negligence or carelessness in operating equipment or machinery
  • Disregard for the safety of the employee or others
  • Involvement in any accident that results in serious damage to equipment or property
  • Disruption of a production or manufacturing process
  • Carelessness that results in any injury to the employee or others.

Options to Appeal an Employer’s Disciplinary Actions

The law also provides that if an employer decides to terminate or discipline an employee based on one of the good faith factors above, then the employer must provide a mechanism for the employee to contest that decision and make a reasonable dispute regarding the facts.

Early Court Decisions 

Illinois’ legalization law is still very new, so there have not been many legal challenges in the courts yet.  Other state statutes, however, have been challenged through litigation. For instance, in Whitmire v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 359 F. Supp. 3d 761, 791 (D. Ariz. 2019), the federal court reviewing a discrimination suit based on Arizona law held that without evidence that the employee actually “used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana at work on [a date], it is clear that Defendant discriminated against Plaintiff in violation of [the state’s Medical Marijuana Act] by suspending and then terminating Plaintiff solely based on her positive drug screen.”

What this Means for Employers and Employees in Illinois

This decision, though not legally binding on any Illinois court, does give some hope to cannabis advocates and those supporting the move to decriminalize cannabis in all its forms. It seems that employers may wish to have clearer policies that directly address the company’s no tolerance rules and how those will be enforced. Likewise, for employees who are disciplined and/or terminated for cannabis use, there is a strong chance that they could make successful claims for discrimination in the future. Of course, this analysis does not even touch upon the potential concerns relating to medicinal cannabis use and how discrimination may actually constitute a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act or other laws designed to protect the rights of those with healthcare needs.

For those facing workplace discrimination based on cannabis use, it’s always a good idea to consult with someone who understands employment law and cannabis regulation. Skilled cannabis lawyers are available throughout the state, and we will continue working to stay abreast to changes in legislation.


About the Author: Jaye R. Lindsay is an experienced trial lawyer in southern Illinois, serving the region from the firm’s offices located in O’Fallon, IL and Mount Vernon, IL. He owns Crossroad Legal, a veteran-owned and operated law firm, focusing on criminal defense and personal injury. He and his firm are ardent supporters of fundamental liberties and strong advocates of cannabis legalization and criminal justice reform. Jaye can be reached at (618) 515-5555 or by visiting the firm at www.Crossroadlegal.com.