September 28, 2022

Volume XII, Number 271

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Summer 2022: A Brief Cannabis Legalization Update

What To Know:

- The efforts to legalize cannabis have gained traction in some states and run into serious roadblocks in others.
- Nineteen states allow adults to possess and use cannabis for non-medical uses (adult use).  
- Thirty-seven states allow for medical cannabis use through state run programs.
- Three senators finally introduced the long-anticipated federal bill, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.

Thirty-eight states have either decriminalized cannabis or enacted laws authorizing its use for medical or recreational adult use.[1] The most recent state to pass legislation is Rhode Island, which authorized an adult use program. Six other states will introduce legislation this fall to try to create an adult use program.[2]

Meanwhile, 14 states tried to pass an adult use cannabis bill only to have their efforts fail to succeed. The state of Delaware came the closest, with its legislature passing a bill, which was vetoed by the governor. The state of Maryland was unable to get adult use cannabis passed through its legislature, so voters are proposing a ballot referendum, which we believe is very likely to pass. Six other states are considering or have already introduced ballot referendums.

A comprehensive article on the state of play for passage of legislation in the States was recently published in the Politico and is linked here and worth reviewing as well.

On July 21, 2022, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced comprehensive federal cannabis reform legislation. The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act addresses many issues raised by cannabis industry participants, advocates, elected officials, and other stakeholders over the past decade. While the bill includes thoughtful and comprehensive reform proposals, it is very unlikely to get the votes needed to pass this year in Congress.

Some advocates are still pushing to pass the SAFE Banking Act, allowing banks insured by the FDIC to serve cannabis businesses without fear of violating federal law. Reform advocates also hope that a package of marijuana policy issues can be approved this fall that combines marijuana research, federal criminal record expungement, and the SAFE Banking Act. The likelihood of any action depends on the results of the midterm elections in November.

Finally, we are tracking a proposed amendment jointly introduced by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dave Joyce (R-OH), co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, to the long-standing Congressional Spending Bill rider. Currently, and for the past several years, the rider has prohibited the Department of Justice from spending federal funds to prosecute activity in compliance with state medical cannabis laws. If passed, the proposed amendment to the Fiscal Year 2023 federal spending legislation would also extend the current prohibition to activity in compliance with adult use cannabis laws. As of this alert’s publication date, the amendment had received approval from the House Appropriations Committee and is expected to receive a vote from the House in mid-September.  


FOOTNOTES

[1] Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

[2] Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio.

© 2022 ArentFox Schiff LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 221
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About this Author

David P. Grosso D.C. Business Attorney ArentFox Schiff
Partner

David Grosso is a Partner at ArentFox Schiff's D.C. office. David advises clients in the Real Estate, Hospitality, Education, Health Care, Arts, and Cannabis industries.

David provides practical guidance to clients in businesses where the federal and District of Columbia governments intersect. He brings valuable experience to clients from his work in the public and private sectors, including serving on the D.C. Council for eight years. He also has an extensive background in federal policy matters, particularly those related to health care and...

202-857-6296
Shahiedah Shabazz Chicago Cannabis Attorney ArentFox Schiff
Associate

Shahiedah Shabazz is an Associate in ArentFox Schiff's Chicago and Los Angeles offices. She provides land use and zoning, regulatory licensing and compliance, and transactional real estate counsel to clients in a range of cutting-edge industries, drawing from over a decade of experience.

Shahiedah assists property owners, developers, institutions, and investors with local land use and environmental compliance. In addition, Shahiedah advises businesses in the California cannabis industry on compliance with state and local laws and regulations....

312-258-5500
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