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Cannabis toolkit

Imagine you had all the answers to your cannabis industry “how do I” questions. From “how do I begin” to “how do I stay up-to-date” - Practical Law helps you take on any matter with confidence.

State Laws

State Medical and Recreational Marijuana Laws Chart: Overview

A Chart outlining state law on medical and recreational marijuana (or marihuana) use. This Chart is limited to states that have relevant laws. It outlines which states have enacted relevant laws and characterizes those legal requirements, including citation to the source of law, characterization of individual rights, and discussion of any employer exemptions or obligations.

Medical Marijuana

Many states have enacted laws that permit patients suffering from debilitating illnesses to access and use medical marijuana. Several states and the District of Columbia have also passed laws authorizing recreational marijuana use. Employers often have questions about these laws, especially because federal law continues to prohibit marijuana use, distribution, and possession for any reason. For example, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a petition to change marijuana from a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act to a non-Schedule I drug, which would have allowed for the possibility of authorized medical marijuana use with a prescription (Ams. for Safe Access v. Drug Enf’t Agency, 706 F.3d 438 (D.C. Cir. 2013)).

States treat medical marijuana differently, but there are some commonalities:

  • Medical marijuana registration cards. Most states only allow access to medical marijuana through a medical marijuana registration or identification card. Although the rules vary by jurisdiction, these cards generally permit a patient to seek physician authorization and then obtain, use, and possibly grow marijuana for medicinal purposes. Cards are generally issued by a branch of state government, require payment of a fee, and are valid for one year.
  • Employer right to terminate or discipline employees. Most state laws carve out exemptions for employers, authorizing prohibitions against use on premises and on-the-job intoxication. A few jurisdictions have produced case law supporting employers’ rights to terminate employees for positive drug tests resulting from medical marijuana use.
  • Common restrictions on employers. Some states, while authorizing termination or discipline for marijuana use or intoxication in the workplace, limit employers’ right to test for marijuana or prohibit discrimination against individuals based on their having medical marijuana registration cards.
  • Limited judicial guidance. Because most medical marijuana laws are relatively new, only a few states have had an opportunity for judicial interpretation, meaning there is little guidance on the medical marijuana laws.

Key Developments in 2019

Key Developments in Cannabis Law: 2019 Tracker

A summary of significant legal developments related to cannabis, including medical and recreational marijuana, hemp, and cannabidiol (CBD) occurring in 2019. This legal tracker covers cannabis-related litigation and legislation affecting employment, real estate, trademark, financial, and commercial matters.

This tracker summarizes key developments affecting the manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of cannabis derived products. It also tracks developments related to business, legislative, and regulatory matters involving marijuana, hemp, and CBD. The tracker contains links to relevant resources.

Date Jurisdiction Development Source
September 25, 2019 Federal The US House of Representatives passed H.R. 1595, known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement Act of 2019 (SAFE Banking Act). The law seeks to enable federally insured banking institutions to work with marijuana businesses in states where marijuana has been legalized. The bill will move to the US Senate where it will likely be amended before it is voted on.For more information regarding financial services and cannabis, see Article, Financial Services and the US Cannabis Sector (W-019-8346). H.R. 1595—116th Congress (2019-2020
September 17, 2019 Chicago, Illinois Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot proposed a new ordinance imposing zoning regulations for the sale of recreational marijuana in Chicago. The proposed ordinance includes an exclusion zone in the Chicago Business District which would restrict new recreational dispensaries from the busiest areas in downtown Chicago.The ordinance proposes seven zones for recreational marijuana dispensaries. Each of the seven zones would be permitted a maximum of seven dispensaries with an increase in dispensaries in May 2020. City of Chicago Press Release, Mayor Lightfoot Introduces Ordinance to Establish Cannabis Requirements and Promote Equity in Expanding Industry(2019)

This document features a few sections of the full resource found on Practical Law. This is one example of the thousands of other up to date, available resources like Practice Notes, Standard Documents, Checklists, Toolkits, and more, that can be accessed as part of a subscription to Practical Law. You can find this resource (w-019-4729) on Practical Law

Cannabis-Related Business

Counseling a Cannabis-Related Business: Overview

Counseling a Cannabis Related Business preview screenshot

A Practice Note providing advice to attorneys on counseling a cannabis-related business. This Note provides a brief overview of the regulation of cannabis and considers the top legal issues faced by a cannabis-related business, focusing on the conflict between federal law and state laws where medical or adult use recreational marijuana is legal.

The emerging industry of cannabis continues to be one of the more intriguing in recent memory. With more states and countries legalizing cannabis in varying forms, the industry is likely to continue to expand. Many companies are moving into the cannabis business or expanding already existing businesses to meet the needs of the quickly growing cannabis industry.

Whether it is the harvesting of hemp for use in health products and clothing, the extraction of cannabidiol (CBD), one of cannabis’ non-psychoactive cannabinoids with its proven health and wellness benefits, the cultivation and dispensing of different strains of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing marijuana for medical or adult recreational use from smoking, vaping, or ingesting edible products, or the multitude of ancillary cannabis-related companies, many of which need an infusion of capital from willing investors, the business opportunities in the cannabis world are vast.

However, cannabis remains an illegal drug at the federal level, presenting numerous challenges for cannabis-related companies and their counsel. This Note examines the top legal issues that practitioners must consider when counseling either a plant-touching cannabis company or a more indirect cannabis-related business.

This Note reviews:

  • Federal regulation of cannabis (see Federal Regulation of Cannabis).
  • State regulation of cannabis (see State Regulation of Cannabis).
  • The challenges arising from the conflict between federal and state laws in the following areas:
    • banking (see Conflict Between Federal and State Laws: Banking);„
    • tax (see Conflict Between Federal and State Laws: Tax);„
    • employees and workplace considerations (see Conflict Between Federal and State Laws: Employees and Workplace); and„
    • bankruptcy (see Conflict Between Federal and State Laws: Bankruptcy).
  • Specific challenges in the areas of real estate, intellectual property, and dispute resolution (see Specific Challenges to Consider: Real Estate, Intellectual Property, and Dispute Resolution).
  • Business structuring considerations (see Business Structuring Considerations).
  • Divergent state and local laws (see Divergent State and Local Laws).
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