WHAT EXACTLY IS THE “UNITY BILL”?

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer ¹

You may have heard about the “Unity Bill” in the past few weeks, a proposed Act that relates to medical marijuana and made its way through the Oklahoma Legislature’s bicameral Medical Marijuana Working Group with a “recommend” to the Legislature for passage. The bill provides a framework to regulate medical marijuana here in Oklahoma, and fills in some of the areas intentionally left unaddressed by SQ 788 and the OMMA’s Emergency Rules with Additional Approved Revisions. There are also some new Proposed Permanent OMMA Rules, and these may be the subject of a subsequent column here. For now, let’s focus on the Unity Bill.

I attended the final hearing on this Bill, and listened to the Working Group members discuss proposed amendments and their sometimes-differing visions for regulating our cannabis industry. It was encouraging to see both sides of the aisle working together to achieve a common goal. The Bill was approved by the House Rules Committee as House Bill 2612, and will likely be heard by the full House in the near future.

It begins with a lengthy definitions section, followed by provisions that formally create the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority within the State Department of Health and charge the OMMA with its implementation.

 

NOTABLE PROVISIONS

Sale of Seeds

Notable provisions include language that allows a commercial grower to sell seeds, flower, or clones “to commercial growers”, thereby providing a much needed legal way for new growers to obtain seeds and clones. Language that would also have allowed the sale by growers to patients or caregivers was deleted.

Patient Confidentiality

The Bill preserves confidentiality of patients and caregivers, making the handling of all records, including the medical marijuana use registry (accessible to Oklahoma-licensed dispensaries to verify licenses), subject to all relevant state and federal laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). All records other than the registry are “deemed confidential” and unavailable to public.

Municipal Ordinances

In addressing the plethora of municipal ordinances, licenses, and permits, the Bill prohibits municipalities and counties from enacting guidelines that “restrict or interfere with the rights of licensed patients or caregivers to possess, purchase, cultivate or transport medical marijuana within the legal limits” set forth in the Bill and Section 420 et seq. of Title 63 of the Oklahoma Statutes, and prohibits requiring patients or caregivers to obtain additional permits or licenses.

Firearms

The Bill projects patients’ and caregivers’ rights to “own, purchase or possess a firearm, ammunition, or firearm accessories” and states that “[n]o state or local agency, municipal or county governing authority shall restrict, revoke, suspend or otherwise infringe upon those rights.”

Employment Issues

Patients with “safety-sensitive” jobs are enumerated, and the Bill provides employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use of medical marijuana at the place of employment or during hours of employment and recognizes employers’ right to establish written policies about drug testing and impairment in accord with current Oklahoma law.

No Doctors at Dispensaries

Another provision prohibits “[a] physician who recommends use of medical marijuana” from being “located at the same physical address as a dispensary”.

Home Extractions Limited

The Bill prohibits operation of extraction equipment or the utilization of extraction processes in a residential property “if the equipment or process utilizes butane, propane, carbon dioxide or any potentially hazardous material in a residential property.”

Seed-to-Sale

The Bill requires an inventory tracking system that “shall allow for integration of other seed-to-sale systems”, provides minimum requirements for same, and mandates quality testing by licensees. Debate during the hearing ensued over the prohibition of license ownership by a publicly traded company, and the issue will no doubt arise again at a later date.

New Licenses Created

The Bill creates several new licenses, including a medical marijuana transporter license, testing laboratory license, research license, and education facility license.

The new transporter license carries an annual fee of $100.00, and differs from the current license provided to each commercial business licensee upon request.

The testing laboratory license is a new category of available commercial business licenses. The Bill gives the OMMA the authority to develop acceptable testing and research practices, standards, quality control analysis, equipment certification and calibration, and chemical identification, and sets out standards and specific requirements for testing and receipt of marijuana product for testing. It also creates several categories of testing, including: microbials; mycotoxins; residual solvents; pesticides; tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoid potency; terpenoid potency; and heavy metals.

The research license requires an extensive application process with numerous requirements. The education facility license carries a $500 fee and may be issued only to a not-for-profit organization. This license allows the 501(c)(3) organization “to possess or cultivate marijuana for the limited education and research purposes” enumerated in the Bill.

What’s the take-away?

The Unity Bill represents a concerted effort to create a working framework for regulation and oversight of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry. It is, in my opinion, a valiant effort. Kudos to Bud Scott and his team who worked tirelessly to draft a bill the Legislature might actually pass. While much work remains to be done and there are provisions in the Unity Bill that may divide, we are on our way to a thriving cannabis industry here in Oklahoma, and that is good news for everyone!

 


¹ Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article.

Uncategorized

2018 FARM BILL LEGALIZES CBD…RIGHT?!

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer ¹

When President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill (“Farm Bill”) in December 2018, the
cultivation of industrial hemp—an agricultural commodity grown by at least three early
American presidents and widely cultivated as a cash crop until the federal government
made all forms of marijuana illegal almost a century ago—again became legal, and with
it, hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.03% THC.

What is CBD?
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid valued in treating many conditions and
ailments, including anxiety, chronic pain, inflammation, nausea, seizures, and the opioid
crisis. We likely will see federally-funded studies on CBD’s health benefits proliferate in
the wake of the Farm Bill’s passage. This is a good thing.

All CBD products contain THC, but those derived from the industrial hemp plant (a
cannabis cousin to marijuana), generally contain less than 0.03%. Before passage of
the Farm Bill, most states turned a blind eye to such products; thus, the proliferation of
CBD shops nationwide. Now that Congress has passed the Farm Bill, signed, symbolically, with a hemp pen by Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-
KY), all cannabinoids derived from hemp (except THC) have been removed from the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). This makes the question of whether CBD is legal
one of origin and production—is it derived from federally-defined hemp or from
marijuana? If the former, it is now legal and has been placed under the FDA’s oversight.

How Is CBD Regulated Now?
The FDA is already taking steps to regulate the CBD industry, sending cease and desist
letters to companies who allegedly have made claims about the medicinal value of their
CBD without FDA approval. Expect the FDA to enact specific regulations targeting
cannabinoids and specifically, CBD, and expect to see litigation challenging those
regulations, all in the near future.

This will not be the FDA’s first foray into CBD regulation. In June 2018, the FDA
approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based pharmaceutical manufactured by GW
Pharmaceutials for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare, severe forms of
epilepsy. The FDA’s approval of Epidiolex forced the DEA to reconsider CBD’s status
as a Schedule I substance, but ultimately, in September 2018, the DEA rescheduled
Epidiolex only, and not CBD.

While the final language in the 2018 Farm Bill repealed Section 7606 of the Agricultural
Act within the 2014 Farm Bill, which had mandated hemp be grown under the direction
of a state agricultural pilot program or institution of higher education, the 2018 Farm Bill leaves states the option to regulate hemp, including hemp-derived CBD, thus
encouraging a potential patchwork of states’ legislation.

What About Oklahoma?
Here in Oklahoma, former Governor Mary Fallin signed industrial hemp legislation in
April 2018, that created the Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. This
Program allows Oklahoma universities and farmers contracting with those universities to harvest certified hemp crops to be used for research and development, making
Oklahoma one of nearly 40 other states with industrialized hemp programs.

Even before the 2018 Farm Bill’s passage, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Bureau of
Narcotics, Mark Woodward, indicated in an interview with an Oklahoma City television
station, that, if CBD sold here contains less than 0.03% THC, such products should not
pose an issue.

For Oklahoma hemp-derived CBD businesses, it is important to test the THC content of
your product and to monitor and comply with applicable FDA regulations that will be
implemented, to avoid potential cease and desist letters, fines, and sanctions for
noncompliance.

For Oklahoma hemp-derived CBD consumers, you can likely relax. And shop.


¹ Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article.

Uncategorized

WORK AND WEED IN OKLAHOMA

By Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

*Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Gossett Parrish as a result of this article.

Since Oklahomans legalized medical marijuana with the passage of State Question 788, the work and weed environment has become a gray area of the law. Litigation will arise out of the competing interests of employees with medical marijuana patient licenses and their employers, who have an interest in maintaining drug-free workplaces. The resulting law will be a combination of statutory regulation by the Oklahoma Legislature and guidance provided by the opinions of the state’s judiciary.

Medical Marijuana Patients—Protected Class

SQ 788 adds licensed medical marijuana patients to the list of specially protected employees against whom employers are prohibited from discriminating—in hiring, imposing any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalizing based on status as a medical marijuana license holder or solely based on a positive test for the presence of marijuana or its components.

That said, SQ 788 does not permit employees who have medical marijuana patient licenses to use or possess medical marijuana on the job, during work hours, or on an employer’s property. It does extend the same protections to medical marijuana patient employees that are afforded to patients who use opioids.

Marijuana Testing in the Workplace

The Oklahoma Standards for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act (ODTA) (outside this article’s scope), governs workplace testing. Suffice it to say that, if an Oklahoma employer implements a testing policy, it must comply with the ODTA, which has a plethora of requirements, including a minimum of 10 days notice to all employees of any new policy or changes to an existing one, prior to the policy’s effective date.

SQ 788 does not limit an employer’s right to test any employee for the presence of marijuana. It does protect Patients from being fired solely on the basis that they have tested positive for marijuana. But if an employee who has tested positive for marijuana also has committed another workplace violation, an employer can terminate the employee without violating the protections of SQ 788.

Since marijuana remains illegal under federal law, if an employer is federally regulated or would imminently lose a federal monetary or licensing-related benefit, then SQ 788 compliance would seemingly be excused.

Oklahoma’s At-Will Employment Doctrine

By far the majority of Oklahoma workers are at-will employees (absent employment contract provisions, contrary language implicit in an employee handbook, or public policy exceptions) who can be fired for good cause, for no cause, or even for a cause that is morally wrong, without an employer incurring liability. Thus, most Oklahoma employers can still maintain no-tolerance drug policies, firing any employee who tests positive or reports to work under the influence of any drug.

So What’s the Take-Away on Weed and the Workplace?

Oklahoma medical marijuana patient licensees should check with their employers to ensure that they are in compliance with the rules, regulations, policies, and procedures of their particular workplace because, at least for now, Oklahoma’s work and weed environment is a gray area of the law.

Uncategorized

What is the Deal with Cannabis in Cars in Canada?!

By Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

Canada has become the second country in the world to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. However, each province has enacted its own regulations, so the laws for legal transportation of cannabis change as you cross from one province into another. Below is a brief summary of the laws applicable to legal transportation of cannabis in each province. In some provinces, if you place opened cannabis packages in an airtight container, out of reach of the driver and passengers, it is legal to transport it—at least from one legal location to another. In other provinces, unless it is in an unopened original container, with proof of purchase, and out of reach for the driver and passengers, you may find yourself in legal hot water.

Newfoundland and Labrador

If you are driving with cannabis in Newfoundland and Labrador, any cannabis you are transporting must be in the original packaging with an unbroken seal, it must be out of reach for everyone in the vehicle, and you must be transporting it from one lawful location to another, i.e., do not just leave it in your vehicle.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Act Respecting the Control and Sale of Cannabis, implementing the Cannabis Control Act, prescribes the applicable law and states in relevant part at Section 77.(1), Cannabis in vehicle or boat, that “[a] person shall not drive or have the care or control of a vehicle or a boat, whether it is in motion or not, with cannabis in the vehicle or boat unless (a)  the cannabis is in the package in which it was purchased and the seal is unbroken; (b) the cannabis is not otherwise readily available to a person in the vehicle or boat; (c)  the vehicle or boat is being used as a dwelling house; or (d) the cannabis is in the possession of a passenger who is being transported, for compensation, in a bus or taxi.”

Furthermore, common carriers and persons only may “transport cannabis from a place or premises where cannabis is lawfully located to another place or premises where cannabis may be lawfully located.” See Section 77.(2).

Prince Edward Island

If you are driving with cannabis on Prince Edward Island, any cannabis needs to be in a sealed container, outside the reach of the driver, at a minimum.

Prince Edward Island has a fact sheet just as Nova Scotia does. In pertinent part, the fact sheet states that, “[y]ou cannot drive any vehicle while consuming cannabis. When you are driving, cannabis must be out of reach to the driver. Cannabis can’t be used by passengers either.” The sheet also states that you can transport cannabis, and “the laws for transporting cannabis are similar to those in place for transporting liquor,” and makes exceptions for consuming cannabis in boats or motor vehicles that “qualify as a private dwellings when docked.”

New Brunswick

If you are driving with cannabis in New Brunswick, there is not an abundance of specific guidance concerning the law applicable to transportation of cannabis. The main takeaway is not to give a law enforcement officer any reason to search your vehicle. Here, the wise move would be to store any cannabis you are transporting in an airtight container, out of sight and out of the driver’s reach, and to keep your purchase receipts for it.

The New Brunswick Cannabis Control Act contains several provisions about cannabis consumption in vehicles and states that an inspector may, “at any reasonable time,” enter and inspect a vehicle to which the Act applies, and require production of documents as applicable,  

At Section 18(2), Consumption – vehicle, it provides that “[n]o person shall consume cannabis or medical use cannabis in or on a vehicle (a)  whether it is in motion or not, that is (i) on a highway as defined in the Motor Vehicle Act, (ii) on a roadway, an all-terrain vehicle managed trail or a motorized snow vehicle managed trail as those terms are defined in the Off-Road Vehicle Act, or (b)  that is in a place prescribed by regulation and in the circumstances prescribed by regulation, if any, (i) on a highway as defined in the Motor Vehicle Act, (ii) on a roadway, an all-terrain vehicle managed trail or a motorized snow vehicle managed trail as those terms are defined in the Off-Road Vehicle Act, or (b)  that is in a place prescribed by regulation and in the circumstances prescribed by regulation, if any.”

Nova Scotia

If you are driving with cannabis in Nova Scotia, it must be in a closed, sealed package out of reach of the driver and passengers. Also, you should keep your receipt, to prove you legally bought it from the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, which is the only authorized retailer of cannabis in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia, where the government has a monopoly as to cannabis distribution, has simplified it’s cannabis law by providing a fact sheet, which states, in pertinent part: “[c]annabis in any form cannot be used in vehicles by passengers or drivers. You may be fined up to $2,000 for consumption in a vehicle; * * * The rules for transporting cannabis in a vehicle are the same as alcohol. Cannabis must be in a closed, sealed package and out of reach from anyone in the vehicle. You can be fined up to $2,000 for improper storage.”  

British Columbia

If you are driving with cannabis in British Columbia, you should not operate a car with cannabis that is not in its original, unopened packaging. If you choose to transport cannabis in its original, unopened packaging, then put it in the trunk or someplace not readily accessible to the driver or passengers, and, if you have plants, do not transport more than 4 cannabis plants that are not budding or flowering.

In British Columbia, the Cannabis Control and Liscensing Act regulates cannabis transportation in Division 5 – Other Rules, Section 81, which provides at 81(1)  that “an adult must not operate a vehicle, whether or not the vehicle is in motion, while (a) the adult has personal possession of cannabis, or (b) there is cannabis in the vehicle.”

There is an exception at Section 81(2) for cannabis that “(a) was produced by a federal producer, is still in the packaging from its purchase by a consumer and the packaging has never been opened, (b) is not readily accessible to the driver and any passengers in the vehicle, or (c) is no more than 4 cannabis plants that are not budding or flowering.”

Section 81(3) states that Section 81(1) does not apply to adults [enumerated in Division 1 – Possession Limits, Application, subsections (d), (e) or (f), who are “(d) licensees and their employees and agents when acting under the authority of the license; (e) persons who hold a license, permit or authorization under the Cannabis Act (Canada) and their employees and agents when acting under the authority of the license, permit or authorization; (f) common carriers who are transporting cannabis as authorized under the Cannabis Act (Canada), their employees when acting in the course of their employment and their agents when acting in their role as agent.”   

Yukon

If you are driving with cannabis in Yukon, you should place any cannabis in a closed container and ensure that it is inaccessible to all persons in the vehicle, and packed in a way that meets any prescribed requirements, which would likely include the original, unopened packaging.

In Yukon, Bill No. 15: the Cannabis Control and Regulation Act, governs cannabis, generally. However, the Act does not contain any specific provisions concerning the transportation of cannabis but does address possession in a vehicle at PART 5, CANNABIS CONTROL. Section 56, Possession of cannabis in vehicle, provides that “[a] person must not drive or have the care or control of a vehicle, whether or not it is in motion, if there is cannabis in the vehicle.” This provision is inapplicable if the cannabis is “in a closed container; inaccessible to all persons in the vehicle; and packed in a way that meets any prescribed requirements.” The section states that cannabis is considered “inaccessible” “when it is situated in the vehicle so that it is not readily available to the persons in it.” Section 56(4). Moreover, unless otherwise prescribed, Section 56 is limited to cannabis produced or obtained for medical purposes. Section 56(3).

Section 52, a catch-all, states that, “[e]xcept as authorized under this Act, the Cannabis Act or another applicable federal enactment, a person must not import cannabis into Yukon.” Further, the Act states at Section 54(2)(b), Possession of cannabis, that “an individual who is not a young person may possess cannabis,” and that, “(b) * * * “if the individual possesses the cannabis in a … vehicle, the total amount of cannabis that the individual possesses, whether of one or more than one class (i) is not more than 30 grams of dried cannabis, and (ii) is not more than any other amount and type of cannabis prescribed by regulation; and (c) the individual is in compliance with any restrictions in relation to cannabis possession prescribed by regulation.”

Additionally, the Act prohibits possession of a budding or flowering plant in a vehicle at Section 54(3)(a)(ii).  

Nunavut

If you are driving with cannabis in Nunavut, the use of cannabis in vehicles, in any form, by drivers and passengers is prohibited. At the time of this writing, no additional guidelines were available.  

In Nunavut, the cannabis legislation includes the Cannabis Act and the Cannabis Statutes Amendments Act, the latter of which was designed to come into force when Canada’s federal cannabis legislation comes into force, although both Acts were passed on June 13, 2018. Nunavut bans the use of cannabis in vehicles, in any form, by drivers and passengers.

Northwest Territories

If you are driving with cannabis in the Northwest Territories, any cannabis you are transporting must be unopened and in its original packaging or stored in a place that is out of reach of the driver and passengers.

The Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act addresses a framework for cannabis legalization in the Northwest Territories, where the Liquor Commission is responsible for the distribution and sale of cannabis and initially, cannabis is being sold in existing liquor stores and through mail order from liquor stores.

Research about The Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act indicates that cannabis in a vehicle must be unopened or be stored in a place that is out of reach of the driver and any passengers.

The Minister of Finance, Robert C. McLeod, has been quoted to say, “[d]espite legalization, cannabis is still a controlled substance and under the Cannabis Products Act community governments have the authority to decide whether they want to restrict cannabis use and sale within their community. The Cannabis Products Act, gives community governments the same options for community control that are available under the Liquor Act.”

The Cannabis Products Act contains a section on Transportation, which provides at Section 4. (1) that “[n]o common carrier shall transport cannabis for delivery from a cannabis store to a person at an address located within the community in which that cannabis store is situated.” This prohibition is not applicable “to the transportation of cannabis to a vendor, cannabis store or another common carrier.” Section 4. (3).

Alberta

If you are driving with cannabis in Alberta, you must transport any cannabis in closed packaging (airtight) and store it out of the reach of the driver or any occupants.

In Alberta, the federal Cannabis Act regulations serve as the law by default, pursuant to the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Corporation. This Corporation’s website states the following in its section, “What are the limitations on transporting cannabis?”

“Within Canada, you are allowed to transport cannabis in a vehicle, but it must be secured in closed packaging and not within reach of the driver or occupants. Travelling with recreational cannabis is allowed within Canada and its provinces, provided it was purchased from a provincially licensed retailer. However, international travel with non-medicinal cannabis is not allowed regardless of your destination. Tourists who purchase recreational cannabis in Canada are not allowed to take it across federal borders. Carrying any cannabis or cannabis products (legal or illegal) across Canada’s borders is a serious criminal offence, with individuals convicted of engaging in such activities liable for prosecution.”

Saskatchewan

If you are driving with cannabis in Saskatchewan, you can transport cannabis from one place to another, so long as you are going from one location of legal purchase or consumption to another place where it is legal to consume it. You should transport it in an airtight package and keep it out of the reach of drivers and passengers.

The Saskatchewan Cannabis Framework sets out the applicable regulations for transportation of cannabis, and these are in addition to those contained in the federal Cannabis Act. The Saskatchewan Cannabis Framework provides at iv. Keeping Saskatchewan Roads Safe, a. Zero Tolerance Approach for Drugs and Driving, that “[c]annabis can be transported from a place it can be legally purchased to a place where it can be legally consumed, or from one location of legal consumption to another.”

Manitoba

If you are driving with cannabis in Manitoba, you can only transport cannabis if it is in a sealed container in the trunk of your car, or if there is no trunk, then behind the rear of the last seat in the vehicle, or if you are operating an off-road vehicle, a power-assisted bicycle, a trailer, or complies with any other exception set forth below.

In Manitoba, the Manitoba Highway Traffic Act states that drivers there can transport cannabis at Section 213.1(1), Transporting cannabis in or on vehicles, that “[n]o person shall drive or have the care or control of a vehicle on a highway if there is cannabis in or on the vehicle, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.”

Exceptions are contained in Section 213.1(2), and provide that Section 213.1(1) does not apply if: “(a) the vehicle is a motor vehicle — other than a motor vehicle used for the transportation of persons for compensation — and (i) the cannabis is stored in the trunk, an exterior compartment on the vehicle or another space designed for the carriage of goods or baggage that is not readily accessible to any person in the motor vehicle, (ii) if the motor vehicle is a station wagon, van, sport utility vehicle, crossover or hatchback style of vehicle, the cannabis is stored behind the rear of the last seat in the vehicle, whether or not that seat is in an upright position, or (iii) if the motor vehicle is a motor home, the cannabis is stored in a cabinet or other storage compartment away from the driver’s area; (b) the vehicle is a motor vehicle used for the transportation of persons for compensation and the cannabis is in the possession of a passenger and carried on the passenger’s person or in the passenger’s personal effects; (c) the vehicle is an off-road vehicle and the cannabis is transported in compliance with Section 31.2 of The Off-Road Vehicles Act; (d) the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle; (d.1) the vehicle is a trailer; or (e) the vehicle is driven by or is under the care or control of a person of a class prescribed by the regulations and the cannabis is stored and transported in accordance with the conditions set out in the regulations.”

Section 213(2) prohibits consuming cannabis in vehicles, stating that “[n]o person shall inhale, ingest or otherwise consume cannabis in or on a motor vehicle, farm tractor, implement of husbandry or special mobile machine on a highway.”

Ontario

If you are driving with cannabis in Ontario, any cannabis must be in its original, unopened packaging or packed in a closed bag or “not otherwise readily available” to you or anyone in the car with you.

In Ontario, the Ontario Cannabis Act governs cannabis transportation and provides at Section 12, Transporting cannabis, 12(1), that “[n]o person shall drive or have the care or control of a vehicle or boat, whether or not it is in motion, while any cannabis is contained in the vehicle or boat.”

An exception is contained at 12(2) which states: “Subsection (1) does not apply with respect to cannabis that, (a) is in its original packaging and has not been opened; or (b) is packed in baggage that is fastened closed or is not otherwise readily available to any person in the vehicle or boat.”

Other provisions make the above applicable to “cannabis obtained for medicinal purposes” and allow police officers to search a vehicle or boat, and any person found in it, “at any time, without a warrant” if the officer “has reasonable grounds to believe that cannabis is being contained” in the vehicle or boat.  See Section 12(3) and 12(4).

Quebec

If you are driving with cannabis in Quebec, you should only do so in its original packaging from the Société québécoise du cannabis, and if it has been opened, then place it in another airtight container; conceal it; make sure you have the receipt(s) of purchase to prove you purchased it at the Société québécoise du cannabis.

The Cannabis Regulation Act regulates transportation of cannabis in Quebec and it is strictly controlled because the government has a monopoly on its distribution. The Act provides in Bill 157, 2018, chapter 19, An Act to constitute the Société québécoise du cannabis, to enact the

Cannabis Regulation Act and to amend various highway safety-related provisions, that the Société québécoise du cannabis is a subsidiary of the Société, and its purpose is “to carry out the Société’s mission as regards the sale of cannabis.” To that end, the Subsidiary may, “authorize a person to engage, on the Subsidiary’s behalf, in the transportation, including the delivery, and storage of the cannabis that the Subsidiary sells.” See Section 23.2(4). Section 23.35(2) provides that the Government may make regulations “determining the conditions that a person must meet to be authorized by the Subsidiary to transport or store cannabis, in particular those related to security clearances.”

Further, Section 23.37 provides that the Minister of Public Security “may also, after consulting with the Subsidiary, establish by directive the minimal verifications that must be conducted under a regulation made under paragraph 2 of section 23.35 before a person is authorized by the Subsidiary to transport or store cannabis.”

Finally, Chapter VI, TRANSPORTATION AND STORAGE OF CANNABIS,” states at Section 23, “Only the Société québécoise du cannabis, a person it authorizes in accordance with subparagraph 4 of the first paragraph of section 23.2 of the Act respecting the Société des alcools du Québec (chapter S-13), a cannabis producer or any other person determined by government regulation may transport, including deliver, and store cannabis for commercial purposes. The Government may, by regulation, prescribe the standards and conditions applicable to the transportation and storage of cannabis. It may also determine the provisions of such a regulation whose violation constitutes an offence and prescribe, for each offence, the fines to which an offender is liable, which may not exceed $100,000. Anyone who contravenes the first paragraph commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $5,000 to $500,000. The amounts of the fines set out in the second and third paragraphs are doubled for a subsequent offence.

Section 24 provides that “[n]othing in this Act may be construed as forbidding the transportation

of cannabis in transit in Québec; however, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the transportation of cannabis without a bill of lading indicating the names and addresses of the shipper and the receiver constitutes proof that it is intended for delivery in Québec.”

Section 70 (2)  provides for inspections of vehicles “used for transporting cannabis”, and Section 80  allows for traffic stops by law enforcement if cannabis transportation is suspected, and the proper documents must be produced to establish it is being transported legally.

In short, the deal with cannabis in cars in Canada varies wildly from province to province so… be careful, do your homework, and don’t count on a break just because you are unfamiliar with the governing law!

Uncategorized

What About Marijuana Medical Research?!

By Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

Notably, according to an August 2018 filing in the Federal Register (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/08/23/2018-18265/proposed-adjustments-to-the-aggregate-production-quotas-for-schedule-i-and-ii-controlled-substances), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is seeking to more than quintuple the amount of marijuana that can legally be grown in the U.S. for medical research purposes—from roughly 1,000 pounds in 2018 to more than 5,400 pounds in 2019. At the same time, the DEA is also seeking to curtail the total number of opioids manufactured in the country.

Most Americans are unaware that, since 1968, a farm maintained by the University of Mississippi has monopolized the production of marijuana that can legally be used for research in America. Scientists and members of the medical research community have frequently and fervently complained that approvals to conduct research are difficult to obtain, and that the Mississippi farm’s marijuana product they are forced to use is of such poor quality that it alters and hampers results yielded from their research studies.

In response to these complaints, several years ago the DEA moved to end the Mississippi farm’s production monopoly and create a process for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to license additional cultivators. Since then, well over two dozen facilities have filed proposals for licenses to legally grow marijuana for medical research, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department repeatedly blocked the DEA from acting on these applications. With Jeff Sessions out now, one can hope that these applications will be reviewed and that many will be granted, so that high grade cannabis will be available to the scientific and medical communities for research.

The DEA’s significant increase in marijuana production quotas for 2019 could signal that the agency believes some of these additional grower applications will now be reviewed and approved. If so, perhaps it will encourage scientists and the medical community to conduct more research studies targeting the medicinal uses of cannabis.

Uncategorized

HEMP & CBD: Do’s and Don’ts before Congress Passes the 2018 Farm Bill

By Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

Contrary to popular belief, technically under the 2014 Farm Bill, CBD products are federally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)—a little recognized fact and a status that, in practice, is seldom enforced now. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has consistently taken the position that commercial activity concerning industrial hemp and CBD derived from it is impermissible under the 2014 Farm Bill. However, the 2018 Farm Bill should render the DEA’s current position untenable.  

A brief background is necessary to fully understand the current status of CBD products under federal law and what the 2018 Farm Bill will do to change this status.

All CBD products contain THC, but those derived from the industrial hemp plant (a cannabis cousin to marijuana), generally contain less than 0.03%. In practice, most states turn a blind eye to such products; thus, the proliferation of CBD shops nationwide. With the anticipated passage by Congress of the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD will be legal under the CSA, which currently defines marijuana as “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L – and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin,” thus including marijuana and industrial hemp within the definition, as both plants fall under the umbrella of “cannabis.” However, there are new protections for hemp-derived CBD in the 800-page 2018 Farm Bill, which Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) symbolically signed with a pen made from hemp.

It is appropriate to include such protections for hemp-derived CBD in the 2018 Farm Bill, given that industrial hemp is an agricultural commodity. At least three early American presidents grew it, and it was widely cultivated as a cash crop until the 1920s, when the federal government made all forms of marijuana illegal. Under the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress authorized state pilot programs to study the cultivation of and commercial market for industrial hemp as a viable agricultural crop. Hence, perhaps, consumers’ confusion about whether or not CBD currently is legal.

Under the championing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, industrial hemp legalization was placed in the 2018 Farm Bill. The final language repeals Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act within the 2014 Farm Bill, which mandates that hemp be grown under the direction of a state agricultural pilot program or institution of higher education. It also removes industrial hemp from the CSA’s definition of “marijuana” and from Schedule I.

The 2018 Farm Bill should end the debate over the legal status of industrial hemp (and, therefore, CBD derived from it) under the CSA. All products made from industrial hemp, including CBD oil, will be legal under the CSA if they contain no more than 0.3 % THC.

Even with the 2018 Farm Bill’s passage, however, a second question will linger—is CBD legal under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act? But that discussion is for another blog post!

While there certainly is some scientific and anecdotal evidence of CBD’s effect on anxiety, pain, inflammation, nausea and seizures, and documentation of its value in fighting the opioid crisis, the current gray area of law concerning whether CBD is legal under federal law has discouraged research on its health benefits, and its technically illegal status has prevented federal research dollars from being designated to study its health benefits. Upon passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, this should change, and we should see studies concerning the health benefits of CBD proliferate.

Uncategorized

COME FLY WITH ME…OR NOT! THE PITFALLS OF FLYING WITH MARIJUANA

By Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

Now that Oklahoma has legalized medical marijuana, can patients take it to Will Rogers International Airport? Can patients carry it on the plane or check it in their baggage? Currently, nothing is posted on the airport’s website about a marijuana policy. However, one thing is certain: once you are in a Transportation Security Administration area in any airport, that area is run by, and under the jurisdiction of, the United States government. Thus, federal regulations apply and marijuana is illegal under federal law. Federal law prohibits possession of marijuana, and this includes possession of it in federal airspace.

TSA’s website specifically provides that “medical marijuana” is not allowed in carry-on bags or in checked bags. See, https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/medical.

In Oklahoma, seemingly airport law enforcement, which operates under state law, would adhere to the provisions of S.Q. 788. Additionally, Will Rogers is located within Oklahoma City, and the Oklahoma City Council voted in September to reform ordinances addressing marijuana possession. Those reforms became effective on October 26, 2018, and reclassified marijuana as a Class “a” offense with a maximum fine of $400. Those reforms also conformed Oklahoma City’s ordinances to the provisions of S.Q. 788, so that patients with a state medical marijuana license and those with commercial business licenses issued by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority will not be cited for marijuana possession if the amount within their possession is within the legal limit for license holders under S.Q. 788.

Across the country, airports are weighing in with marijuana policies. Boston’s Logan International Airport has no rule to prohibit bringing marijuana to the airport, whereas McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas has a formal, airport-wide ban on marijuana possession and has installed amnesty boxes for cannabis products at key locations outside airport buildings. Denver International Airport prohibits marijuana possession anywhere on airport property. Reno- Tahoe International Airport has a sign in the smoking area that reminds people marijuana use is prohibited. LAX’s policy is that what is legal on the streets of Los Angeles is also legal in airport terminals.

In practice, at most commercial airports in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, no charges will likely be filed against you if a state-legal amount of medical or recreational marijuana is discovered, because the matter is referred to airport law enforcement and state law applies. However, flying with marijuana is illegal under federal law, as is bringing marijuana into post-security areas at any airport in the United States.

So what is the take-away here? Don’t fly with marijuana. While it may be legal, at least medicinally, in a majority of states now, traveling with it is not. Don’t take the risk. Leave it behind.

Uncategorized