Obsidian Insights

Sweeney: We have the votes to pass marijuana bills

TRENTON — The state Legislature has yet to produce a pair of bills to legalize recreational marijuana and expand the state’s medical cannabis program, but Senate President Steve Sweeney says he has the votes lined up to pass both measures by the end of September.

“There’s some people that will never support it and there are some people who are just hedging their bets because there’s not a bill to look at,” Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said during a wide-ranging sit-down interview with POLITICO.

Still, the Senate president said he‘s certain he and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) will secure the necessary votes in their respective chambers to pass both measures.

“I’m confident we‘ll get to 21 and 41,” Sweeney said, referring to the minimum number of votes needed for passage in the Senate and Assembly, respectively. “I‘m not going to get to 28, but I’m confident I’ll get to 21 votes and the speaker will find 41.

“Don’t be surprised when people who say they were against it vote for it,” Sweeney said, predicting some Republican support.

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Topics: NJ Legislature, Marijuana Bills, Stephen Sweeney

New Jersey Judge Rules Employers Can Discriminate Against MMJ Use

A U.S. District Judge in New Jersey has ruled that an employer can indefinitely suspend an employee for his doctor-prescribed medical cannabis, The Daily Journal reports.

Ardagh Glass in Bridgeton, New Jersey did not allow medical cannabis patient Daniel Cotto Jr. to return to work after he refused a drug test. Cotto claims his employer knew about his use of medical cannabis, which was prescribed for chronic pain due to a severe neck and back injury in 2007. Cotto has provided a doctor’s note saying he is capable of operating machinery while medicated.

Cotto filed a lawsuit against Ardagh Glass which argued that, by not allowing him to return to work, the company had violated New Jersey‘s anti-discrimination laws and the Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA), which allows Cotto to be prescribed medical cannabis.

U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler’s decision found that the point of law allowing Ardagh Glass to deny Cotto his work hinged on mandatory drug testing. Under the language of CUMMA, Kugler wrote, an employer cannot be compelled to waive a drug testing requirement.

Other judges across the nation have delivered mixed rulings regarding medical cannabis for employees, including other decisions in New Jersey. In July, a Workers’ Compensation Judge ruled that Freehold Township, New Jersey had to pay for an injured worker’s medical cannabis treatment. That ruling ran counter to the decision in Cotto v. Ardagh Glass, and more contradictory rulings can be expected until federal legalization cleans the slate.

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Topics: employer discrimination, judge Robert Kugler, Ardagh Glass, Daniel Cotto Jr.

UN to Review Cannabis’ Status Under International Law

In November, the United Nations will perform a deep review of cannabis’ scheduling status under the 1962 Single Convention treaty, which coordinates international drug laws, reports Marijuana Moment‘s Tom Angell.

The UN World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence found in a pre-review in June that there was sufficient scientific evidence to support a full critical review of cannabis’ status, the first part of a multi-step review process. The review will consider cannabis from multiple scientific viewpoints with epidemiological and pharmacological analyses.

“Thankfully the World Health Organization has accepted the challenge of evaluating the placement of cannabis in the 1962 Single Convention treaty. Cannabis placement in the treaty was done in the absence of scientific evaluation and has provided the basis for a moral campaign against drugs by the USA for many decades. Since our work on medical access to cannabis has been based upon scientific inquiry we know that any rational assessment of the evidence leads the observer to understand cannabis indeed has proven medicinal value and, compared to other medicines, has profoundly fewer negative side effects.” — Michael Krawitz of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, via Marijuana Moment

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Topics: United Nations, World Health Organization, International decriminalization

5 Reasons Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Are Essential in the Cannabis Industry Business

Inclusion is not just a catch phrase, it's a managing philosophy.

The cannabis sector is one of America’s fastest growing industries. Thirty states have passed medical marijuana laws, and nine of those allow adult use. Nearly two-thirds of Americans support legalization. Despite the influx of consumer interest and cash, people of color are increasingly being left out of the green rush.

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Topics: inclusrion, diversity, Cannabis industry, Dasheeda Dawson

Trump Tariffs Set To Hit Cannabis Industry

It’s more than soybean farmers and car makers who could feel the effects of Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. The legal cannabis industry will take a hit as well.

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Topics: Trump, Tarriffs, Cannabis industry

Is Article V of the U.S. Constitution the path to federal legalization?

As the fight for country-wide marijuana legalization gains momentum, lawyers have come up with some innovative ideas for challenging prohibition, such as the landmark Washington V Sessions case, which incubated at a Cannabis Bar Association meeting.  Another engaging idea - Article V - was floated by intellectual property attorney, Ms. Karen Bernstein, on behalf of one of her law students, at the Cannabis Law Summit, which took place at the law offices of Duane Morris, LLP. 

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Topics: Article V, U.S. Constitution, Federal legalization


The 'Starbucks of weed' ramps up marketing as legalization of recreational usage grows

This week, cannabis retailer MedMen puts its signature offering front and center in its largest marketing push to date.

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Topics: MedMen, No more Stoner

Wrigley gum heir enters bud biz!

William “Beau” Wrigley, Jr., former CEO of the Chicago-based Wrigley Company, was named board chairman of medical marijuana company Surterra Wellness on Monday.

Surterra recently closed a $65 million fundraising round that was led by Wrigley. The Atlanta-based company — which manufactures cannabis products and is licensed to operate medical dispensaries in Florida and Texas — has raised over $100 million since 2015.

“I am thrilled to join the Surterra team and help drive their mission to build a best-in-class cannabis healthcare business,” Wrigley said in a statement. “After extensive diligence, we determined that Surterra has the highest quality standards, best products, and most professional management team in the industry.”

During Wrigley’s time at the chewing gum giant, which was founded by his great grandfather, the company acquired Altoids and Life Savers before being sold in 2008 to Virginia-based Mars, the makers of Snickers, Twix and other popular candies. Wrigley currently serves as president of Wychwood Asset Management LLC., a firm that invests in venture capital and private equity interests.

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Topics: wrigley, cannabis chewing gum

California Adds 6421 Cannabis Licenses in First Half of 2018

California Marijuana Licenses Grow by 405% in the First Six Months of 2018

During the first six months of 2018, since California began issuing temporary marijuana licenses for adult-use cannabis, the number of granted licenses jumped from 1,272 licenses on January 17th to 6,421 licenses on June 30th. That’s a growth rate of 405%!

According to the Cannabiz Media research team, which tracks marijuana licenses across the United States and Canada in the Cannabiz Media License Database, the growth rate was significantly higher during the first quarter of 2018 (322%) compared to the second quarter of the year (20%), but the team explains that numbers don’t tell the full story at first glance.

During the second quarter of 2018, California changed the rules related to how temporary marijuana licenses were granted. Prior to May 2018, applicants were required to obtain separate licenses to conduct medicinal and adult-use marijuana activity. New rules released in May allowed applicants to complete one application and obtain a single license to conduct both medicinal and adult-use cannabis activity. As a result, the license growth rate during May and June was only 6%. Had adult-use and medicinal licenses still be granted separately, the growth rate would have looked much higher.

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Topics: california cannabis, cultivation, licenses, 2018, 405% growth


New Jersey is on the cusp of legalizing recreational cannabis. But with no legislation ready, questions — and fears — are being raised

Gov. Phil Murphy said marijuana would be legal in New Jersey within his first 100 days in office. Now, it’s Day 202 and there’s no bill legalizing it to be found. As lawmakers debate the features of that inevitable legislation — polls say a majority of voters support the move to legalize — New Jersey residents want solid details of what that would look like.

At two panel events last week, New Jersey residents from different parts of the state asked experts and advocates on both sides of the debate how cannabis markets will impact their neighborhoods. The biggest issues that surfaced among many different groups included fears about outside commercial entities taking over and the impact on communities of color.

One panel presented by Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (NJ-RAMP), an anti-legalization advocacy group, was held at Stockton University and featured former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Another community panel in Camden was hosted by pro-legalization group New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR).

“The part that I’m struggling with is, we’re talking about legalizing recreational marijuana and the tons of revenue it may make at some time, but I still don’t hear anything concrete,” New Jersey Green Party co-chair Gary Frazier said at the Camden gathering.

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Topics: cannabis legalization, marijuana legislation

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