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U.S. House Includes SAFE Banking Act in New COVID-19 Relief Bill, Montana Cannabis Legalization Campaign Launches Signature Drive: Week in Review


This week, the U.S. House included legislative language from the SAFE Banking Act in new legislation aimed at economic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic. Elsewhere, in Montana, a campaign to place an adult-use cannabis legalization initiative on the state’s 2020 ballot kicked off a signature drive despite coronavirus-related setbacks.

Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.

  • Federal: The U.S. House will include legislative language from the SAFE Banking Act in the next relief bill aimed at economic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic. Thus far in the current economic crisis, cannabis businesses have been largely excluded from such relief, as the ongoing Schedule-I status of the plant has barred any federal stimulus aid or small business loans from hitting the industry—even as cannabis business around the U.S. have been deemed “essential” in this difficult moment. Read more
  • The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) has recommended that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) should not be part of the cannabis research application process as part of the NCIA’s comments on the DEA’s proposal to advance cannabis research. Among other reasons, the NCIA highlights the DEA’s sluggish processing of current applications to explain why the law enforcement agency is not the right fit to lead cannabis research initiatives. Read more
  • Montana: After losing a court battle to collect signatures electronically, New Approach Montana kicked off a statewide signature drive last weekend to get two complementary adult-use cannabis legalization measures on the state’s 2020 ballot. “As our state reopens for business, we must also reopen for democracy,” the campaign’s political director, Pepper Petersen, said in a public statement. Read more
  • Massachusetts: The Cannabis Control Commission plans to launch its adult-use cannabis delivery application May 28, as some regulators have said that delivery is a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. The licenses will be granted to social equity and economic empowerment applicants for at least the first two years in an effort to bolster industry participation from businesses owned by minorities, those with prior cannabis-related convictions and individuals who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Read more
  • Missouri: An investigation into the roll out of Missouri’s medical cannabis program has reached Gov. Mike Parson’s office, as a House committee seeks records involving Parson’s chief of staff, chief operating officer and a longtime adviser. The Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight sent a letter to the Department of Health and Senior Services May 7, requesting records of the department’s interactions with cannabis industry stakeholders and insight into how key decisions were made in the medical cannabis licensing process. Read more
  • Nevada: Don Peabody, also known as Joesy Whales, the co-founder of Nevada-based GG Strains and co-creator of the Original Glue (GG4) cannabis variety, passed away May 6 at the age of 66, according to the company’s announcement on Instagram this week. “GG Strains has lost a legend this week, and the world has lost an amazing man,” the company said. Read more
  • Ohio: The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled several ballot initiative campaigns in Ohio, including one to place adult-use cannabis legalization in front of voters this fall. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office rejected summary language of Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s ballot initiative March 10, and the campaign has struggled to find its footing as the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more
  • California: Arvin, Calif., voted unanimously this week to adopt a hemp ordinance after the publicized destruction of a local crop. The 5-0 vote signals a concerted effort by city officials to work with the industry and related institutions in a county that has halted multiple cannabis operations over the past year. Read more
  • Maine: Maine has eliminated a residency requirement for adult-use cannabis businesses that stipulated license applicants had to live in the state for a minimum of four years after reaching an agreement with cannabis operator Wellness Connection of Maine this week. Wellness Connection filed a lawsuit in March to challenge the constitutionality of the residency requirement. Read more
  • International: Israel approved medical cannabis exports this week, setting the stage for international sales. Exporters must apply for a license from the Health Ministry, and some companies already have agreements in place to sell cannabis abroad once the licenses are available. Read more