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This week, we cover a plea from US senators to include cannabis companies in federal Coronavirus relief measures, the impact of Coronavirus on legalization efforts, a lawsuit leveled against the DEA, and the erroneous CBD claims of an NFL star. 

As always, we will also provide updates on legalization developments at the state level. 

Also, to keep you informed on the ongoing pandemic, we will provide recent news regarding the spread of COVID-19. 

Coronavirus Is Devastating Legalization Efforts Across The Country

Across the country, Coronavirus continues to have a dire impact on all levels of American life. Stay at home orders are causing astronomical unemployment rates, and many industries are suffering. 

Within the cannabis industry, the US response to Coronavirus is having a devastating impact on legalization efforts. Before Coronavirus hit, 2020 promised to be a hallmark year for cannabis legalization bills. Numerous states already have the approval to put legalization bills on the November ballot, and several more are continuing that process. 

However, stay at home orders have crippled efforts to put legalization bills on the November ballot. Social distancing is making a signature collection—a key method for ballot access—all but impossible. As a result, several activist groups pushing to get approval for legalization bills are calling it quits.

Now, groups from states like Nebraska and Missouri have had to suspend their efforts, and more states are likely to follow. 

Lawsuit Against DEA Claims ‘Secret File’ Delayed Cannabis Research Efforts

Among the issues prominent within the continuing legalization in the US is that of cannabis research. Claims regarding the medicinal utility of cannabis are widespread, but there remains a lack of relevant research on the substance. 

To date, research on cannabis has been severely limited by federal restrictions. As of now, scientists have only one place to acquire cannabis for research: a grow at the University of Mississippi. 

However, in 2016, the DEA announced that it would expand the number of facilities that could provide cannabis for research. Unfortunately, all institutions that submitted applications to legally grow and provide cannabis have been met with silence. A resulting court mandate forced the DEA to announce plans to make good on its promise. 

Now, over three years after the initial announcement to expand facilities, the DEA is facing a new lawsuit. The Scottsdale Research Institute filed the suit, claiming that the DEA is guilty of violating the Freedom Of Information Act. 

According to the SRI, the DEA heeded the recommendations of a non-public opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The SRI believes that this secret opinion cited international treaty obligations as preventing the DEA from appointing new cannabis producers.

Senators Advocate For Cannabis Companies Receiving Federal Loans

As Coronavirus ravages the US economy, the federal government has set forth multiple relief measures. One such measure includes an expansive federal loan program aimed at helping small businesses survive the impact of social distancing. 

However, the cannabis industry has been effectively left behind by such relief efforts. As cannabis remains federally illegal, companies that profit from cannabis sales are unable to apply for federal business loans. 

This exclusion could cause dispensaries across the country to shut their doors for good as Coronavirus slashes their profits. 

On Thursday, eleven US senators submitted a letter to leadership demanding that cannabis companies be eligible for aid. The senators requested that the Small Business Administration discontinue its exclusion of cannabis companies. The letter claims this is a “common sense solution” that will protect jobs and small businesses in 33 US states. 

FDA Gives Formal Warning To NFL Player Over False CBD Claims

While CBD undoubtedly carries several medical benefits, certain individuals and organizations are often guilty of distorting the truth. Kyle Turley, a former nine-year NFL offensive lineman, is facing legal consequences for just that. 

Turley’s CBD company, NeuroXPF, has been making claims that its product can prevent and cure Coronavirus. The false claims have appeared multiple times in social media posts and advertisements written by the company. 

Now, the FDA has issued a formal warning to Turley as a response to these claims. The warning states that Turley must cease and desist immediately, as well as edit any existing marketing or advertisement copy containing the erroneous claims. 

According to the FDA, failure to heed the warning could result in legal action including seizure and injunction. 

However, Turley welcomed the formal warning as a public relations opportunity. In fact, he posted the warning letter to his Twitter with the caption “WE DID IT!!!!” 

Turley claims that this warning is evidence that the federal government wishes to silence those who advocate for CBD’s medical potential. 

State-Level Cannabis Decriminalization and Legalization Developments

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. 

  • Oregon Senator Ron Wyden filed a congressional bill that would prevent landlords from evicting tenants carrying out state-legal cannabis extraction. 
  • In Missouri, activists suspended efforts to introduce a cannabis legalization bill to the November ballot. The group cited the effect that social distancing has on gathering signatures.
  • A Florida judge ruled that continued CBD deliberations by the FDA do not protect CBD companies from facing labeling lawsuits.
  • An Idaho activist group has discontinued its efforts to introduce a medical cannabis bill due to Coronavirus social distancing measures. 
  • New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated that US dispensaries should remain open despite Coronavirus social distancing measures. She claimed that states allowing liquor stores to remain open should allow the same opportunity to cannabis dispensaries. 
  • Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill allowing state regulators to distribute unused cannabis business licenses to individuals from communities that have been most affected by the ongoing war on drugs.
  • In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker defended his decision to close recreational cannabis dispensaries. He claimed that such dispensaries attract numerous out-of-state visitors, putting the state at risk during the Coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Illinois dispensaries did $36 million in sales in March, despite the effects of Coronavirus. 

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): 336,830

Confirmed COVID-19 DEATHS In United States (As Of March, 22): 9,618

  • During a Coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump claimed he was open to passing further Coronavirus relief measures.
  • On April 4, the United States reported a record number of Coronavirus deaths with 1,224 fatalities in one day.
  • President Trump falsely claimed that lupus patients were less likely to contract Coronavirus due to frequently being prescribed Hydroxychloroquine. 
  • Despite support from the Coronavirus task force, President Trump has declined to issue a national stay-at-home order.
  • All individuals entering Maine are now legally required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • The Democratic National Convention will now take place in August, citing Coronavirus concerns. 
  • Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine left prison four months early due to Coronavirus related concerns. The rapper’s lawyers claimed his asthma put him at an increased level of risk. 
  • The Mayor of Los Angeles asked citizens to use non-medical grade masks to help fight mask shortages in local hospitals. 
  • Adam Schlesinger, Fountains of Wayne singer and musician, passed away from Coronavirus complications.

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