This week, U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have reintroduced the bipartisan SAFE Banking Act to protect banks and other financial institutions from federal prosecution when working with cannabis-related businesses that are operating in compliance with state laws. Elsewhere, Canopy Growth Corp. bought the rights to acquire Acreage Holdings Inc. for $3.4 billion in a cross-border cannabis deal.
Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.
- Federal: U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have reintroduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the U.S. Senate as the House companion bill, HR 1595, gains momentum. The bipartisan legislation, which has 20 cosponsors in the Senate, would protect banks and other financial institutions from federal prosecution when working with cannabis-related businesses that are operating in compliance with state laws. Read more
- Canopy Growth Corp. has bought the rights to acquire Acreage Holdings Inc. for $3.4 billion in a cross-border cannabis deal that’s conditional on the U.S. eventually legalizing marijuana for adult use. Canopy has been looking for an entry point into the U.S. cannabis market but is restricted by its listings on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, both of which prohibit trading by companies that are violating U.S. federal law. Read more
- Nevada: Several companies have sued the state tax department, arguing that no one knows for sure the criteria officials use to award new licenses. They will ask a judge Monday to freeze the granting of marijuana dispensary licenses, at least temporarily, until the courts decide whether it’s “arbitrary and capricious and violates the constitution,” one lawsuit says. Read more
- Tennessee: Lawmakers have abandoned a plan to introduce a sweeping proposal to legalize and regulate medical marijuana throughout Tennessee. Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville), one of the state's strongest voices for medical marijuana, said that the proposal did not have enough support to pass, so advocates were delaying bills on the topic until next year. Read more
- Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation Tuesday that her office says “clarifies and streamlines the licensing process” for medical marijuana and hemp growers. Senate Bill 203 defines an applicant for a medical marijuana or hemp business as someone with a stake of greater than 10 percent in a company. Read more
- Washington: People with previous misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions in Washington state are a step closer to more easily having those convictions vacated. A bill passed the House on a bipartisan 69-29 vote Tuesday, and because the House amended the measure, the bill heads back to the Senate—where it passed last month—for a final vote. Read more
- A proposal to allow parents to administer limited forms of marijuana to their children on school property has passed the state Senate, along with a proposal for new marijuana testing rules. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers described the school bill as aimed at students that need medical marijuana for relief from chronic illnesses. Read more
- Georgia: Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday signed into law a bill to grow and sell medical marijuana oil in Georgia, a milestone for patients who are allowed to use the drug but had no way to buy it. The law creates a new but limited marijuana industry in Georgia, with up to nine acres of indoor growing space for prodution of low-THC medical marijuana oil, which will then be sold to the state’s growing number of registered medical marijuana users—9,500 so far. Read more
- Alabama: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill by Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), which would lessen the penalties for marijuana possession in Alabama. Besides reducing the penalties, the legislation would allow offenders to have marijuana convictions expunged after five years if they steer clear of another arrest. Read more
- Florida: Florida is adding eight more medical marijuana operators to the 14 businesses currently selling cannabis throughout the state. The new additions to the state’s rapidly growing medical-marijuana industry come from a pool of applicants that lost out in the first round of licensing in 2015. Read more