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This week, we cover federal support for cannabis research, an Amazon lawsuit, Joe Biden’s collaboration with Bernie Sanders, and plans to include a cannabis banking access measure in an upcoming coronavirus stimulus package.  

Federal Agency Supports Study Of Cannabis As Opioid Withdrawal Treatment

In a recent blog post, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health supported the idea of studying cannabis to further understand its potential as a treatment for opioid withdrawal. They specifically mentioned pain management as one of cannabis’ more promising utilizations.

According to NCCIH Director David Shurtleff, cannabis research has failed to keep up with its rising cultural acceptance. “While public interest in and use of cannabis and its derivatives has accelerated, the evidence lags behind,” Shurtleff said. 

The key focus of the statement is cannabis’ potential to relieve pain. Specifically, the NCCIH is interested in measuring the analgesic effects of phytocannabinoids, cannabinoids, and terpenes. 

Amazon Worker Fired For Using Medical Cannabis Wins Federal Court Decision

Last year, a former Amazon employee sued the multi-billion-dollar company following an employment termination resulting from medical cannabis use.

According to the former employee, they failed a THC test and subsequently requested disability accommodation to continue their cannabis use. Their cannabis prescription was for an anxiety disorder, claiming that cannabis use allowed them to carry out their work. 

The former employee initially filed their suit in the New Jersey Superior Court. However, Amazon filed a motion to move the case to a federal court. Their hope was that federal regulation against cannabis would result in the case being dropped.

Instead, the federal court approved the former employee’s remand request, effectively moving the case back into New Jersey’s Superior Court. 

This bodes well for the former employee, given New Jersey’s take on cannabis and disability accommodations. Most states allow businesses to develop their own policies regarding cannabis use among their employees, regardless of their legal status. 

However, New Jersey’s Supreme Court has ruled that businesses must respect medical cannabis prescriptions. Given this development, the former employee has a solid chance of winning their suit against Amazon. 

Joe Biden And Bernie Sanders Form Group To Address Drug Policy Reform

Last week, Bernie Sanders’ withdrawal from the presidential race left Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee. 

It represented the end of a months-long, contentious campaign trail involving numerous candidates with diverse platforms. One such contentious issue among candidates was that of cannabis legalization and other drug policy reform measures. 

A majority of serious candidates seemed to favor federal legalization. However, Biden had perhaps the most conservative take on the issue. In fact, comments by Biden referring to cannabis as a “gateway drug” garnered him a great deal of negative press. He eventually walked back that specific claim, but he has made it clear that he does not support federal legalization.

However, to present a unified democratic front, Biden and Sanders have agreed to put together groups to shape Biden’s platform. The groups will focus on six major issues, including criminal justice reform, the economy, education, climate, immigration, and health care.

Included within the topic of criminal justice will be drug policy reforms. Although specifics have yet to develop, the hope is that collaboration between Biden and Sanders will result in an approach to cannabis reform that goes further than outright rejection of legalization. 

Nancy Pelosi Plans To Include Cannabis Banking Access In Upcoming Coronavirus Relief Bill

Several congress members plan to include a measure granting banking access to cannabis companies in an upcoming coronavirus stimulus package. 

The measure, a revision of Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, was introduced by Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter. The measure has gained the support of several other members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

This effort comes at the heels of an ongoing cannabis crisis within the context of the coronavirus pandemic. While the Small Business Administration is doling out low-interest loans to small businesses to survive the economic impact of coronavirus, cannabis businesses have been pointedly and repeatedly excluded. 

The struggle to gain access for such loans has thus far been a failure for cannabis companies, with the SBA citing federal regulations. However, the potential for banking reform within the next coronavirus stimulus package highlights the ongoing congressional attention being given to ongoing cannabis reform. 

State-Level Cannabis Decriminalization and Legalization Development

In past months, the spread of cannabis decriminalization and legalization progress throughout the United States has been at a fever pitch. This week, several states saw developments in cannabis legalization.

  • The Governor of Virginia signed a cannabis decriminalization bill into law on Sunday, April 12. 
  • Montana cannabis advocates are suing the state for the right to gather electronic signatures in support of a legalization bill. 
  • Missouri is the latest state to lose a local effort to get a cannabis legalization bill on the 2020 ballot. As social distancing policies continue, an inability to gather signatures has caused many legalization efforts to fail across the country. 
  • The governor of Colorado is calling for cannabis companies to receive federal relief in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Connecticut lawmakers doubt they can produce a legalization bill this year, even if they can manage to hold a session.
  • Recreational sales in Maine will be delayed as the state deals with coronavirus. 
  • New Hampshire medical cannabis patients received an extended deadline for their medical cards as a response to social distancing measures. 
  • Ohio deemed CBD businesses to be “non-essential,” preventing them from conducting business as the coronavirus pandemic continues. 
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld spoke out against the state’s closure of recreational dispensaries. 

Coronavirus Updates In The United States

As COVID-19 continues its spread throughout the US, we will provide you with updates to keep you up to speed. We will continue to include these updates at the end of This Week In Weed until further notice.

Confirmed COVID-19 CASES In United States (As Of March, 22): 720,630

Confirmed COVID-19 DEATHS In United States (As Of March, 22): 37,202

  • The NFL and NFL players association agreed to a virtual preseason that will begin this week. 
  • Louisiana became the latest state to announce a school closure that will last the rest of the year. 
  • The chief economist for the International Monetary Fund claims that coronavirus will leave economic scars that extend well into 2021.
  • President Trump announced that the US will cut off funding to the World Health Organization among the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Pennsylvania has enacted legislation that will allow businesses to reopen if they meet CDC guidelines. 
  • In an unprecedented move, President Trump ordered his signature to appear on forthcoming federal stimulus checks. 
  • As of April 16, 22 million US citizens have filed for unemployment as coronavirus continues to ravage the economy.
  • Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney, was released from prison citing coronavirus concerns. 
  • President Trump revealed federal guidelines concerning the reopening of individual state economies. He says that states can make their own decisions regarding adherence to the guidelines. 
  • As social distancing measures continue, groups around the country have begun protesting, demanding that economies reopen.

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