On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the United States Senate approved an estimated $2 trillion dollar stimulus package in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The legislation, formally known as the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (or the “CARES Act”), was approved by the Senate 96-0 following days of negotiations.  One of the most highly anticipated provisions of the CARES Act, the “recovery rebates” for individuals, will provide a one-time cash payment up to $1,200 per qualifying individual ($2,400 in the case of eligible individuals filing a joint return) plus an additional $500 for qualifying children. (§6428.2020(a)).  The CARES Act, which remains subject to House approval, also prescribes an additional $500 billon in corporate aid, $100 billion to health-care providers, $150 billion to state and local governments, and $349 billion in small business loans in an effort to provide continued employment and stabilize the economy. The legislation further provides billions of dollars in debt relief on existing loans. Continue Reading CARES Act – Stimulus Package Won’t Aid the Marijuana Industry

Husch Blackwell’s Steve Levine is pleased to present at the 2020 Regional Conference in St. Louis for the Healthcare Compliance Association. Steve will serve on a panel discussing the state of medical marijuana. The conference provides attendees with a forum to interact with local compliance professionals, share information about compliance successes and challenges, and create educational opportunities to strengthen the healthcare industry.

Learn more about the education topics by viewing the program agenda.

President Trump is back at it again with his most recent inconsistent stance on marijuana.  “As part of his recently released fiscal year 2021 budget plan, Trump proposed ending an existing policy that protects state medical marijuana programs from Justice Department interference in addition to a provision that would continue to prohibit the District of Columbia from regulating the sale of marijuana for adult use.”  This comes on the heals of a December 2019 release concerning the medical cannabis rider that was part of Trump’s pending legislation stating the Trump administration “will treat this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”  While this statement was vague at the time, clearly the President was forecasting the recent removal from his proposed budget plan.

What does this mean?

This budget rider has been an important protection for the medical marijuana world for several years.  In fact, this was affirmed by the 9th Circuit when it concluded that §542 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act prohibits DOJ from spending money on actions that prevent medical marijuana states giving practical effect to their state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana including prosecutions against state-compliant medical marijuana operations.

If Congress is unable to add the rider as part of the appropriations process, the already challenging world of marijuana will be thrown into additional uncertainty.  The HB cannabis team will continue to monitor and provide updates.

With the legalization of industrial hemp, many are eager to jump into the booming market for cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp-infused products. However, for manufacturers and retailers of ingestible CBD products in particular, it is prudent to look before jumping headfirst onto the “green wave.”

Continue Reading Ride the “Green Wave” with Caution: Enforcement Against Companies Selling CBD Products Continues

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release on the evening of Monday, November 25 concerning its recent enforcement actions and a regulatory decision concerning products that contain cannabidiol (CBD).  The Warning Letters follow FDA’s trend of focusing its CBD product enforcement on unapproved drug claims.  The regulatory decision stated in the press release concerns FDA’s decision that CBD is not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use as a food additive.

The fifteen (15) Warning Letters, each dated November 22, 2019, were issued to companies for marketing various CBD products. The products identified in the Warning Letters spanned conventional foods, dietary supplements and animal products.  FDA made specific mention in several Warning Letters about statements regarding the use of CBD products in infants and children. Continue Reading FDA States CBD Is Not GRAS for Use in Food, Issues More Warning Letters

Last week, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the “CDC”) announced what the agency considers to be an important breakthrough in their investigation on vaping illnesses. While the CDC has not ruled out other possible factors, the investigation has revealed a correlation between those suffering from symptoms and Vitamin E acetate. The CDC considers the compound to be a “potential toxin of concern”. Of the 29 lung tissue samples tested, all  had detectable levels of Vitamin E acetate. Tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) or its metabolites were found in 82% of the samples and 16 of 26 patient sample contained Nicotine metabolites.

These results are consistent with a findings by New York health officials in September and make sense since Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive in THC and other vaping products. While there may be multiple causes for this outbreak of illnesses the CDC finds  the correlations found to Vitamin E acetate and vaping related illnesses in 10 states to be “noteworthy”. Pending the completion of the investigation, the CDC has recommended people refrain from the use of ALL vaping products with THC, no matter where they are sourced.

Simultaneously, the Trump administration has indicated forthcoming changes to laws and regulations surrounding vaping and will deliver final decisions next week. The President has indicated the possibility of raising the legal age of use for vaping devices to 21.

As a result of this guidance and dire warning from the CDC more states and localities may implement stricter restrictions on vaping devices and substances.

Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (the “USDA”) released a draft interim final rule regarding the establishment of a domestic hemp production program. We expect the interim final rule to be published in the Federal Register in the next day or so, which will initiate the 60-day public comment period. This rule establishes rules to approve state and tribal plans to regulate the production of hemp pursuant to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or the 2018 Farm Bill. Continue Reading USDA Interim Hemp Regulations

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (“SAFE Banking”) by a vote of 321-103. The final vote, which required 2/3 majority of the House, included 229 Democrats and 91 Republications.

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), the bill’s sponsor who first introduced the legislation back in 2013, amended the bill ahead of Wednesday’s floor vote to broaden its GOP appeal.

Continue Reading SAFE Banking Passes the House