Welcome back to Higher Law, our weekly briefing on all things cannabis. I'm Cheryl Miller, reporting for Law.com from Sacramento. Hope your cannabis-infused Thanksgiving turkey is thawing in the fridge.
The vote count continues on in some places, but this week we're already taking a look at what 2019 and 2020 could have in store for legalization efforts. Plus, phones are ringing off the hook at Michigan law firms as business and entrepreneurs seek guidance on that state's voter-approved recreational program. And scroll down to see who got the work.
Thanks as always for reading. Please keep the story tips, feedback and turkey-cooking tips coming. Drop me a line at email@example.com or you can call me at 916-448-2935. Follow me on Twitter at @capitalaccounts.
Post-Election Pot Prognosticating
Fresh off last week's spate of ballot-box victories,legalization advocates are already looking for their next opportunities. And there seem to be plenty to choose from.
"I think 2020 is going to be a very big year for marijuana ballot initiatives across the country," Matt Schweich, deputy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said during a post-election webinar hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association.
"I expect that Ohio and Arizona will both have legalization initiatives on the ballot," Schweich said. "Then Florida, I think, is a possible legalization state. And then there are states like Nebraska, where there's very high level of support for medical marijuana. I could see a medical initiative being launched there."
Advocates are also eying state legislatures in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Kentucky and South Carolina for either medicinal or recreational authorization. A key incentive in the northeast is the increasing number of states opening markets.
"I keep telling them, 'How much tax revenue do you want to send to Massachusetts?'" Schweich said.
Michael Correia, director of government relations for the National Cannabis Industry Association, seemed almost giddy about the legislative possibilities that could come with a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
"I really think 2019 is going to be a great year," Correia said. "The Senate didn't switch over but I do think if we get the president realistically looking at 2020, and you get the House pushing this, you do have a lot of support on the Senate side. I do think we can get some positive outcomes, whether it's appropriations or moving some legislation."
Look for more legislation shielding marijuana-legal states from federal prosecution plus bills dealing with hemp, CBD and possibly protections for marijuana-client banking.
Who Got the Work
>> Emily Tupy has been named senior counsel at multistate cannabis operator Cresco Labs. Tupy was recently a business unit compliance lead with BMO Financial Group. Cresco grows, process and sells marijuana through operations in six states.
>> Woods Lonergan of New York, N.Y. is representing cannabis business EPMMNY in a New York state court suit seeking more than $100 million. EPMMNY plaintiffs say they were improperly cut out of a 25 percent equity stake in medical cannabis-licensee NY Canna. The suit lists more than a dozen defendants, including Acreage Holdings, which acquired part of NY Canna in 2016. A message left with Acreage Holdings was not immediately returned.
In the Weeds...
>> Business is booming for Michigan lawyers. Since state voters made Michigan the tenth state to allow recreational marijuana use, attorneys say they're fielding all sorts of questions about business licenses and local regulations, even though many answers are still months, if not a year or more, away. "There is no precedent to what we are doing,” said Barton Morris of Cannabis Legal Group. “But our clients need answers, they need to make large money decisions.” Detroit Free Press
>>The next attorney general must protect states' rights on marijuana. That's what Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner told the Denver Post. “Whoever comes after Jeff Sessions is going to face some pretty tough questions about where they stand on states’ rights and making sure they will stand up for states’ rights," Gardner said. Speculation about Chris Christie and Pam Bondi as possible replacement candidates, however, has not thrilled legalization advocates.
>>New York firm Barclay Damon is one of five candidates vying for the job of state marijuana consultant in Maine. The other applicants are BOTEC Analysis of Los Angeles, Guardian Labs of New Orleans, Denver consulting firm Freedman & Koski and Zoned Properties Inc. of Arizona. The winning firm will write the rules for recreational marijuana licensing and operations oversight. State officials expect the rules to be finishes by April. The Portland Press Herald
>> Is Illinois next? Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker says legalizing recreational marijuana is "something we can work on nearly right away" after he's sworn into office next year. Pritzker said he also wants to look at expunging the records of those with marijuana convictions. "If we’re going to legalize recreational marijuana, then we shouldn’t have all the … people sitting in prison for things that are currently legal,” WFLD
>> Pete Sessions is out and marijuana bills are in. Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, who will chair the House Rules Committee in the next session, told the Boston Globe that he won't block marijuana-related bill amendments. “Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that," the Democrat said. "Federal laws and statutes are way behind." Sessions, a Texas Republican who just lost his reelection bid, frequently bottled up marijuana bills in his committee. Boston Globe
...On the Calendar
Nov. 18 - The Florida Cannabis Coalition hosts Green Carpet Networking in Doral.
Nov. 26 - The North Dakota Supreme Court will hear arguments in State v. Abuhamda, a criminal case involving, in part, a retailers' sale of CBD products.
Dec. 7 - Duane Morris hosts the Cannabis Media Summit in New York.
Higher Law will take a breather next week for Thanksgiving. See you again on Nov. 29. Thanks for reading—and reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback is appreciated.