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Connecticut Asks Massachusetts Cannabis Companies to Remove Billboards

Connecticut Asks Massachusetts Cannabis Companies to Remove Billboards

Connecticut is asking Massachusetts to stop displaying cannabis billboards on the state border

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has sent a letter to seven Massachusetts cannabis companies asking them to remove their billboards from along Connecticut highways.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has sent a letter to seven Massachusetts cannabis companies asking them to remove their billboards from along Connecticut highways, saying that the ads are illegal in the state under its adult-use cannabis law passed earlier this year, Western Mass News reports. Under Connecticut’s legalization law, cannabis advertising is prohibited unless 90% of the audience is 21-or-older.

The Attorney General’s Office clarified to Western Mass News that the letter is a request not a demand.

Erik Williams, chief operating officer of Canna Provisions, which is based in Massachusetts and uses billboard advertising on the highway, said that the company has no intention of removing the ads, despite the letter from Tong.

“If we capitulated to every prohibitionist’s whim or request, I would say that we would not have adult use cannabis in Massachusetts and certainly it wouldn’t be coming in Connecticut. … I believe that this is too far reaching of an insinuation that they have made against our company and other advertisers, against marketing firms, and against the other folks who have also gotten those letters.” – Williams to Western Mass News

In the letter, Tong said the billboards encourage customers to cross state lines with cannabis products, which is a federal crime, but Williams said that was not the case.

“We are continuing to talk to them and I told him that this is an important thing for us to look for,” Williams said in the report, “and we also want to really see that the Connecticut market actually thrives as well.”

Canna Provisions has no intention to take the billboard down, Williams said.

The report does not indicate whether the other six Massachusetts companies with billboards in Connecticut plan to honor the attorney general’s request.

New York to prohibit workplace discrimination due to cannabis use

New York to prohibit workplace discrimination due to cannabis use

New York to prohibit employers from drug testing for cannabis use

New York will be one of the first states in country to prevent public and private businesses from discriminating based on cannabis usage.

With cannabis now legal for recreational use in New York, employers and employees are wondering how the new law will impact cannabis use and work. It is extremely common for a business to drug test a potential new hire.

These tests can check for a wide range of illicit substances, and almost all of them look for THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. However the New York Department of Labor has released FAQ guidance making clear what employers and would be employees can expect.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act passed in 2021 legalized the use of recreational marijuana for individuals ages 21 and older. Notably for employers, the law also amended Section 201-d of the New York Labor Law – which prohibits discrimination by an employer against an employee because of certain lawful outside work activities – to include protections for recreational cannabis use.

More specifically, employers are now prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their use of cannabis outside of the workplace, outside of work hours, and where use does not involve the employer’s equipment or property. This change also applies to workplace drug testing with some exceptions.

New York cannabis drug testing changes

As employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against cannabis use by employees outside of the workplace, this includes drug testing for cannabis. However there are three cases in which drug testing for cannabis may still be permitted:

  1. An employers is required to take such action by state or federal law;
  2. The employer would otherwise be in violation of federal law or would lose a federal contract or federal funding; or
  3. The employee, while working, manifests specific articulable symptoms of impairment that either decrease or lessen the employee’s performance or interfere with the employer’s obligation to provide a health and safe workplace.

In the case of the second exception, guidance states that employers may only test an employee for cannabis if a state or federal law requires drug testing or makes it a mandatory requirement of the position. Employers cannot rely upon this exception to test an employee for cannabis merely because it is allowed or not prohibited by law.

To summarize this aspect, employers are in most cases prohibited from discriminating against an employee (i.e. drug testing) for cannabis use outside of the work place. Despite legalization however there are still prohibitions on cannabis use in the workplace.

Cannabis use in the workplace

The guidance released by the NYDOL gives employers broad discretion to prohibit cannabis use in the workplace. In other words, the employer has the choice whether to prohibit it or not.

The employer also has the option to prohibit possession of cannabis on company property, and has the explicit right to prohibit cannabis use under two circumstances:

  1. Time that an employee is on-call or “expected to be engaged in work;” and
  2. Time, “including paid and unpaid breaks and meal periods, that the employee is suffered, permitted or expected to be engaged in work, and all time the employee is actually engaged in work.”

Additionally, the NYDOL does not consider an employee’s private residence used for remote work to be a “worksite” within the meaning of the statute. However employers do have the ability to institute policy prohibiting cannabis use during work hours and take action against employees exhibiting impairment, even while an employee is working remotely.

Overall, the new guidelines released by the NYDOL clear up a lot of confusion surrounding cannabis use and workplace testing, and bring ease to many who are looking forward to the new legal access to cannabis in New York, whenever it becomes available.

USPS Bans Mailing Hemp, CBD and Vape Cartridges

USPS Bans Mailing Hemp, CBD and Vape Cartridges

USPS bans mailing hemp, CBD and vape cartridges

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on Wednesday released its final rule on the mailability of vapes, asserting that even devices designed for federally legal hemp derivatives like CBD generally cannot be shipped through the U.S. mail.

The agency has been developing the regulations to comply with a bill passed by Congress last year that is mostly aimed at stopping nicotine vaping devices from being mailed—though it has broader implications. Despite significant public comment on an earlier proposed version of the rules that urged USPS not to interpret the law in a way that restricts hemp businesses, the agency ultimately said that cannabis vapes fit the definition of what lawmakers moved to ban.

There are some exceptions, but stakeholders are disappointed by the final rule.

During public comment, some argued that the bill was specifically meant to restrict mailing of nicotine-based vapes. But while the legislation refers to limitations on “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” or ENDS, it defines that term as “any electronic device that, through an aerosolized solution, delivers nicotine, flavor, or any other substance to the user inhaling from the device.”

USPS explained in the rule, which is set to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, that by the letter of the law, that includes hemp and marijuana vapes.

“It goes without saying that marijuana, hemp, and their derivatives are substances,” the agency said. “Hence, to the extent that they may be delivered to an inhaling user through an aerosolized solution, they and the related delivery systems, parts, components, liquids, and accessories clearly fall within the [Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act’s] scope.”

Other commenters argued that USPS shouldn’t impose the restriction on cannabis products because the ban could conflict with state or local marijuana laws—or because Congress has approved spending legislation that prohibits the use of Justice Department funds for interfering in state-legal medical cannabis programs.

USPS said those arguments are not valid because, 1) it’s part of the federal government and is, therefore, unaffected by state or local marijuana policies and 2) it’s not part of the Justice Department, which is the only branch of the government restricted by the state protection rider in appropriations legislation.

The agency further clarified that hemp containing up to 0.3 percent THC is federally legal and is generally mailable, but only “to the extent that they are not incorporated into an ENDS product or function as a component of one.” As such, while business can generally mail out legal hemp-derived products, that’s only the case if they are not vaping products covered under the new law.

“The POSECCA and the Agriculture Improvement Act overlap, but they do not conflict. The Agriculture Improvement Act merely excludes certain products from the CSA. It does not affirmatively declare hemp and hemp derivatives to be mailable in any and all circumstances, superseding all other relevant laws (such as the POSECCA). For its part, the POSECCA restricts the mailability of only certain hemp-based and related products; hemp-based non-ENDS products are unaffected, as are ENDS products falling within one of the PACT Act’s exceptions. That Congress has rendered some subset of a class of goods to be nonmailable while leaving the remainder mailable is not some sort of legal conflict, but, rather, how mailability regulation typically works.”

Oregon Declares State of Emergency Over Illicit Hemp Farms

Oregon Declares State of Emergency Over Illicit Hemp Farms

Ilicit hemp farms make up 50% of operations in an Oregon county

There were several concerns among states following the federal legalization of hemp in 2018. One of the primary being the regulation of both cannabis and hemp together in states where cannabis has been legalized.

One such state is Oregon, which legalized cannabis in 2014 and quickly saw a massive boom in the new industry. The state was producing so much cannabis that the price per pound tanked, almost causing the entire industry to crash in just a couple of years.

So when the government legalized industrial hemp on the federal level in 2018, many states including Oregon saw it as an opportunity to broaden the accessibility to the cannabis industry for farmers. Many in Oregon were looking for an alternative to THC-rich cannabis due to the oversaturated market, which led them to switch to hemp instead.

Others joined when hemp was legalized as they recognized the potential of the growing CBD market, and more nefarious actors joined to take advantage of one of the biggest overlying issues in the hemp/cannabis industry; figuring out the difference.

Illicit Hemp Farms

Hemp and cannabis are technically one and the same. While the genetics have branched apart from each other over time, the plant remains very similar at their core. Both contain THC and CBD, but while cannabis was bred to have more THC, hemp traditionally has lower THC levels already, making it easier to breed out.

The Farm Bill requires that hemp contain no more than .3% THC, an infinitesimal amount that can’t produce a psychoactive high. This requirement is what helped drive the CBD as market, as all other cannabinoids aside from Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are technically legal.

Since the plants look so similar to each other, a large portion of the farms claiming to be growing legal hemp, have actually been growing illicit cannabis without proper licensing.

With cannabis legal in Oregon now, these illegal farms operate with near impunity next to Oregon’s highly regulated cannabis market. With many western states being hit with drought this year, these illegal farmers are also illegally stealing water from the surrounding creeks and wells. One illegal cannabis farm recently raided by authorities was illegally drawing water from the Illinois River to feed over 72,000 marijuana plants.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners recently declared a state of emergency warning of “an imminent threat to the public health and safety of our citizens from the illegal production of cannabis in our county.”

The illegal cannabis farms are often posing as legal hemp farms, the commissioners noted. The Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission recently reported that nearly 50% of registered hemp farms inspected in the state are illegally growing cannabis, with a THC content greater than legal limits.

Luxembourg becomes first European country to legalize cannabis

Luxembourg becomes first European country to legalize cannabis

Luxembourg legalizes cannabis for consumption and cultivation

In an effort to combat the illicit drug market, Luxembourg will legalize home cultivation and consumption of cannabis.

The country of just over 650,000 will permit home cultivation and consumption of cannabis, and allow the sale and purchase of seeds through local shops and from ordering abroad. There will be no shops to purchase cannabis flower or other cannabis products.

The law specifies that cultivation can only be done “in the four walls of your own home,” and the same goes for consumption. Which means there won’t be any sort of consumption lounges, and consumers cannot do so outdoors.

The leaders of the Greens – one of the three coalition partners in government along with the Democratic Party, and the Socialist Workers’ Party – said the move “represents a fundamental reorientation of Luxembourg’s drug policy”, as the government aims to tackle drug-related crime with a more “holistic” approach.

“The war on cannabis has failed,” the party said in a statement on Friday.

“The announcements of the Minister of Justice, Sam Tanson, represent a fundamental reorientation of Luxembourg’s drug policy. At last, the use of cannabis is being regulated and a legal alternative to the black market is being created.”

The Greens added that the main objectives of new legislation on cannabis would be to exempt production, purchase and consumption of a given amount of cannabis from punishment, keep users away from the black market, reduce the mental and physical dangers associated with it, and combat acquisitive crime.

With this new law Luxembourg will become the first European country to legalize cannabis for recreational use. While multiple other countries have decriminalized or legalized medical cannabis, and many have legalized hemp production in some form, none have fully legalized it for recreational use.

Even in a country like Holland, famous for Amsterdam which many consider a legal cannabis haven, cannabis is not technically legal.

While the Luxembourg law may be restrictive and lacking plans for an operational commercial industry, the government isn’t ruling out the domestic production of seeds for commercial purposes.

Switzerland to legalize cannabis use and cultivation

Switzerland to legalize cannabis use and cultivation

Switzerland cannabis legalization has passed

Switzerland has moved closer to a legal cannabis market, an article by local news outlet Blick said on Tuesday.

According to the report, The Social Security and Health Commission of the Council of States (SGK-S) has carried out an investigation on cannabis, concluding that current laws should be updated. Their findings and recommendations for new legislation were supported by forty members of the National Council, who signed the initiative, giving the proposed reform backing from across the Swiss political sphere. As a result, the bill, which will allow the production, cultivation, trade and consumption of cannabis, was passed by a vote which ended nine votes to two in favor.

The new regulation was launched by the SGK-S’s National Councillor for Bern Centre, Heinz Siegenthaler with a parliamentary initiative which states “cannabis should be regulated in Switzerland in order to control the cannabis market for better youth and consumer protection”. The bill goes on to say that “the cultivation, production, trade and consumption of cannabis containing THC to be reorganized by law in accordance with the recommendations of the Federal Commission on Addiction (EKSF).”

Specified within the bill are ways to control the production and trade through the use of state bodies, with particular attention paid to the protection of minors, quality control and the availability of information.

Another important intention of ending prohibition is to make an impact on the cannabis black market by allowing the cultivation of plants at home for personal use.

Although cannabis will remain illegal until the new bill comes into force, Switzerland has been working towards a regulated cannabis market for some time. Earlier this year leafie reported the country was planning to launch a recreational cannabis trial involving 500 participants as a means to collect data on the impact of a fully legal recreational cannabis supply chain.

It is estimated that around 500,000 adults in Switzerland consume cannabis. The country has already removed criminal prosecution for small scale possession as of 2012. Anyone caught with less than 10 grams will not be prosecuted, but instead will face a fine of 100 Swiss Francs (£78). The country also allows the sale of ‘light’ cannabis, containing no more than 1% THC, which can be legally bought over the counter from tobacco stores.